Mediums, Messages, Massages: Perceptions of Conflict in Social Media Engagement of the Russia-Ukraine War

Conference: The Paris Conference on Arts & Humanities (PCAH2022)
Title: Mediums, Messages, Massages: Perceptions of Conflict in Social Media Engagement of the Russia-Ukraine War
Stream: Media, Film Studies, Theatre, Communication
Presentation Type: Oral Presentation
Daniel Gilmore, New York University, United States


It is well established that one of the primary spaces through which an increasing number of people encounter the world are social media platforms. And as the trajectory of social media has evolved over the previous 15-20 years, moving from spaces heavily dominated by the user-generated content of unaffiliated individuals to ones that now exhibit much more parity between that and legacy media affiliated content, social media platforms are now spaces where entertainment, correspondence, and information are engaged with in habits of consumption marked by fluidness, hybridity, and overlap. This phenomenon is most clear when it comes to how news about important events is disseminated and consumed on these platforms, especially during their initial onset. This paper focuses on the beginnings of the February 24th, 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine and the succeeding days after that as a frame through which to explore this dynamic more deeply. It proposes the following questions: how and from whom did information about the initial days of this conflict reach broad audiences? What impact did a mix of first-hand accounts and official reporting have on perceptions? And in what ways did dissemination/consumption of images of conflict intersect with social media conventions, including the utilization of memes and pop culture frames to help shape meaning-making around these events as they occurred. While Twitter is the platform that is primarily focused on for this examination, other platforms (TikTok in particular) will also be discussed in order to contrast their own dynamics and effects.

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