Workshop Proceedings of the 17th International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media

Workshop: Workshop on Data for the Wellbeing of Most Vulnerable

DOI: 10.36190/2023.05

Published: 2023-06-01
Online Networks of Support in Distressed Environments: Solidarity and Mobilization during the Russian Invasion of Ukraine
Jinyi Ye, Nikhil Jindal, Francesco Pierri, Luca Luceri

Despite their drawbacks and unintended consequences, social media networks have recently emerged as a crucial resource for individuals in distress, particularly during times of crisis. These platforms serve as a means to seek assistance and support, share reliable information, and appeal for action and solidarity. In this paper, we examine the online networks of support during the Russia-Ukraine conflict by analyzing four major social media networks---Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. Using a large dataset of 68 million posts, we explore the temporal patterns and interconnectedness between these platforms and online support websites. Our analysis highlights the prevalence of crowdsourcing and crowdfunding websites as the two main support platforms to mobilize resources and solicit donations, revealing their purpose and contents, and investigating different support-seeking and -receiving practices. Overall, our study underscores the potential of social media in facilitating online support in distressed environments through grassroots mobilization, contributing to the growing body of research on the positive impact of online platforms in promoting social good and protecting vulnerable populations during times of crisis and conflict.