This post is part of our Special Coverage Ukraine's #Euromaidan Protests.
For the first time ever, a Ukraine-related hashtag topped Twitter's worldwide trending topics, holding its number one position on the social network most of the day on January 27, 2014.
An activist initiative dubbed #DigitalMaidan Twitter Storm called upon Twitter users to post tweets in massive numbers to show support for Euromaidan anti-government protesters in Ukraine. The mass tweeting with the hashtag #digitalmaidan began at 10 a.m. EST (5 p.m. in Kyiv) and was coordinated by social media users from the Ukrainian diaspora in the West and other activists.
The Public Diplomat, a blog based in Syracuse, New York that aims to explain public diplomacy by providing insight into “ideas, research and events that catalyze the engaging of different cultures” tweeted:
— The Public Diplomat (@Public_Diplomat) January 27, 2014
The Facebook event page used to gather supporters for the #DigitalMaidan Twitter Storm explained:
Have you been a part of a Twitter storm before? If not, here's how they work: A Twitter storm is when people, at a specific time, bombard twitter with the same hashtag. Just before the Twitter storm starts, a google page of around 80 pre-made tweets will be shared here on this event page. The pre-made tweets target TV stations, newspapers, officials, celebrities. There will be a separate one for Canada that excludes members of Congress. By all of us tweeting the same 80 messages with the same hashtag at various media and VIPs, we can get our message trending.
During the hour of the Twitter Storm, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. EST, a mass amount of Twitter users tweeted the prepared tweets from the #DigitalMaidan page, as well as their own messages and calls for help to the international community, public figures and celebrities, to raising awareness and support the people of Ukraine's Euromaidan protests, which have endured for two months now.
Watcher.com.ua estimates there was an average of five to six tweets per minute that included the hashtag.
Ukrainian journalist Mustafa Nayyem joined the effort:
— Mustafa Nayyem (@mefimus) January 27, 2014
— Civic Sector (@maidan_go) January 27, 2014
According to statistics from Topsy, over 60,000 #digitalmaidan tweets were published during the hour of the Twitter Storm, which continued with further tweets and retweets throughout the day.
— Kinoyurch (@Ukr_fries) January 27, 2014
Not all Twitter users in Ukraine took to the flashmob with enthusiasm. A parody Twitter account for the former head of Presidential Administration, Serhiy Lyovochkin, was more than skeptical about the effect of the Twitter storm:
— Левочкинъ (@slevo4kin) January 27, 2014
— Twitter Data (@TwitterData) January 24, 2014
Over the past several days, there have been rumors that authorities may decide to shut down Internet and mobile networks in another attempt to quell the protests that have been growing for over 10 weeks now. Whether or not that happens, Internet tools and social networks are an intricate and important part of the protests, in particular in seeking support and explaining the protests to the international community.