There’s someone running across a field. The eerie silence can be interpreted as a sign that there is something wrong. At the same time, you hear the sound of a missile. The explosion is visible in the distance. Panic strikes for just a second.
You feel like you are watching a movie about war, except that it isn’t.
It’s a real clip from the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and these videos are not hard to find at all. The videos show what’s happening to the real war victims, including children and other civilians. It’s a testament once again to the real power and value of social media. It’s a platform that is not afraid to shy away from the reality of war and the atrocities of the invasion.
In the short history of Twitter (which debuted about 15 years ago), there’s never been such a proliferation of video clips from a specific group of people in this short of a time period, and that has impacted the world so dramatically.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine in recent times, clips have started appearing one after another. It’s now at the point where the images and videos are impossible to overlook, if you spend any time online at all. Here’s just one example that shows the devastation in UkraineWarning: Some images may be distressing. Scrolling through this feed reveals exactly how powerful social media has become, because we can’t shield our eyes from it.
Here is an example of how Vladimir Putin, Russian President, might have misunderstood social media’s power over the past few weeks. Everyone around the globe (except Russia where they are banned) has seen these videos and images.
You could make the case that all of the propaganda and misinformation being disseminated about the “real” purpose of the war, or the “true intentions” of the Russian military, are completely obliterated with a few Twitter posts showing what is actually happening.
That’s a rarity in the short history of social media, which has become known for political hate-speech and influencer marketing more than anything. What we’re really talking about here is a shift where social media has played an actual, legitimate role in helping people understand what has been happening and what life is like on the ground in this war-torn area.
One example: Feed My Starving Children, an organization that sends meals to homeless children in Ukraine has sent 1.5 million meals. They also plan on sending another 2 million.
The organization doesn’t have to make a case that there is a massive need, since social media has made that abundantly clear. You can see that there is a demand by just looking at Twitter. This makes Instagram seem less valuable. This app, and its many users, seem to be unaware of the global crisis.
It is hard to imagine that other humanitarian organizations would not be able convince the public of the urgency and need for aid. You can find all the information you need on Twitter by searching #ukraine.
That’s something Putin probably could not have predicted. It is now unclear if social media will impact humanitarian aid, resolving the global emergency or whether unfiltered access truly makes a difference.