The political and social turmoil caused by the Euromaidan protests in Ukraine, Russia's annexation of Crimea, and the ongoing conflict between the two countries in Eastern Ukraine have kept the two states in world news headlines. Social media users in both countries have provided an ongoing stream of opinions, forecasts, and stories, many of which RuNet Echo has reported on extensively.
The motivation for this project stems from the observed increase in the use of social media as a tool for political debate and discussion in both Ukraine and Russia, which became evident during the Euromaidan protests in Ukraine, and has been a regular feature of the prolonged Russian-Ukrainian conflict. We are interested in learning more about the kinds of discussions people have, the kinds of content they post about political issues, and the nature of the content that “goes viral.” We are also curious about the extent to which the Twittersphere reflects the daily news agenda and the key political events during an overall state of political turmoil.
This research builds on the large amount of tweets from opinionated Twitter users in Ukraine and Russia, and harnesses the power of big-data analysis and information visualization to shed light on what Internet users think about their political leaders.
We want to investigate how Russian and Ukrainian Twitter users talk about their presidents—Vladimir Putin and Petro Poroshenko. Which one do they talk about more? What do they say and in what context? What images and multimedia do users associate with these prominent politicians?
To find answers to these and some other questions, we've been collecting tweets since October 2014, and now have a corpus of over six million tweets mentioning Putin or Poroshenko in English, Russian, and Ukrainian—data that can reveal insights about the public discourse around these two men.
We expect these conversations on Twitter to show how users frame the political situation and their leaders’ decisions in a broad sense, as well as to demonstrate emotional perceptions of both politicians and their actions.
Twitter, in particular, is a medium through which videos, photographs, and links to Web content are shared, re-shared, and discussed in a multitude of ways, so it gives us rich content with which to work. The 140 characters of a tweet’s text makes up only a small portion (about 2%) of the data for each tweet. There are also links to embedded media (photos and videos), links to the Web, the sender's number of followers, “geotag” locations, and so on. This wealth of metadata, coupled with the tweet’s content, provides a significant amount of information to explore and visualize.
The data gathering, analysis, and reporting, conducted by Tetyana Lokot, RuNet Echo's contributing editor, Lawrence Alexander, a data scientist and regular RuNet Echo contributor, and Ed Summers, Lead Developer at the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities, will result in a series of stories, interactive data visualizations, and multimedia content. These pieces, highlighting different aspects of the dataset and interesting findings, will be published on RuNet Echo throughout 2015.
We hope you join us as we delve into the collective mind of Russian/Ukrainian Twitter users to find out how they talk about their presidents, their politics, and the events of the last year.
RuNet Echo's stories about the ‘presidential’ Twitter dataset from Ukraine and Russia
- What Do Twitter Users in Ukraine and Russia Say About Their Presidents? An Introduction
Internet users often resort to discussing public figures, officials, and politicians as representing the best and worst of their countries, and none have been as central to recent events as the leaders of the two states.
- Twitter Chatter About Putin and Poroshenko: The Language Breakdown
Tweets in Russian account for over half of the 6,342,294 tweets in our dataset. English, Spanish, Ukrainian, and French are the other common languages in tweets about Putin and Poroshenko.
- Mapping Geolocated Tweets About Putin and Poroshenko
North America, Western Europe, and parts of Eastern Europe have the largest share of geolocated content in our dataset of tweets about the presidents of Russia and Ukraine.
- Twitter Discourse Around Putin and Poroshenko in Ukraine and Russia
In a new installment of our citizen-media data-analysis project, All The Presidents’ Tweets, we use word clouds to visualize the Russian and Ukrainian discourse around Putin and Poroshenko on Twitter.
- Hashtags and User Networks in the Putin-Poroshenko Twitter Chatter
Network graphs reveal the associations between individual Twitter users in Russia and Ukraine and the hashtags they include in their tweets about presidents Putin and Poroshenko.
What we do: Global Voices reporters cover how citizens use the Internet and social media to make their voices heard, often translating from and to different languages.