Collective Action on Facebook and Telegram During the Russia–Ukraine War
Keywords:collective action, Affordances, Facebook, Telegram, Russia-Ukraine war, fundraising
Social media have been used for political bottom-up organizing and collective action since at least the Arab Spring protests. Social media provide unique affordances that reduce the costs of collective action facilitating anonymous communication and cooperation at a much larger scale than ever before. The Russian invasion of Ukraine provides multiple examples of social media use for collective action. In this conflict, social media platforms, most prominently Facebook and Telegram have been actively employed by Ukrainians as places for organisation, volunteering and gathering support from a variety of volunteers both inside the country and abroad. After nine months of the war, it can safely be said that volunteering has played a huge role in the resistance to Russian aggression. However, little is known about how collective action has been organised on social media during this conflict. This paper aims to advance knowledge on the subject by focusing on how different forms of collective action have been organized on two widely used platforms: Facebook and Telegram. Based on the qualitative analysis of the profiles engaged in the organisation of collective action on Facebook and Telegram we discuss common features and differences between activists on both platforms. Different approaches to the organisation of pages, groups, and channels (including user engagement, interaction, and reporting) are discussed. The theory of affordances is used as a theoretical lens in analysing how the design of Facebook and Telegram allow and constrain certain types of collective action. The paper aims to contribute to the understanding of online collective action and bottom-up organisation on Facebook and Telegram.
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