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Ukraine: how social media images from the ground could be affecting our response to the war

NOMIS Awardee Manos Tsakiris has published an article in The Conversation describing the way social media has influenced the world’s response to the war in Ukraine and the resulting refugee crisis.

From wars, to terrorist attacks, to revolutions, our perceptions of major world events are strongly influenced by the images we see from the ground.

Manos Tsakiris (Photo: Ines Njers)

The first world war was the first major conflict to be widely photographed and shown in newspapers, before photojournalism truly came of age during the second world war. Some decades later, the Gulf war was the first to be broadcast live on television. Ten years after that almost everyone recalls seeing live footage of the plane hitting the second tower of the World Trade Centre. More recently, the role of social media during the Arab Spring in the early 2010s led some to describe it as the “Facebook revolution”.

Soon after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, commentators began calling this conflict the first “TikTok war” because of the degree to which Ukrainians have been sharing videos of their experiences on the platform. But this wave of citizen journalism has extended well beyond TikTok. Ukrainians have been sharing photos, videos and personal stories on Twitter, Instagram, Telegram and other platforms.

Civilians provided the view from the ground even before media organisations could get there, and they have done so in a highly effective and poignant way. Ukrainians and their political leaders have used social media not just to inform people about the developments on the ground, but also to relay their emotions and defiance.

Continue reading this The Conversation article



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Professor of Psychology
Royal Holloway University of London, The Warburg Institute
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