Inciting conflicts on social media: how they evolve and intensify the divisions among us

We conducted a reseaAlmost all conflicts are initiated by Ukrainians, but most are later taken advantage of by Russians. Those in power should be most cautious of disagreements concerning everyday matters.rch to define how social media platforms shape, utilize, and deepen divisions within Ukrainian society. The study focused on eight topics that sparked discussions in the Ukrainian social media landscape throughout 2022.

The research is based on the analysis of publications in the Ukrainian segment of social media that had the highest engagement metrics and focused on one of the eight conflict topics in 2022. For each specific topic, at least 300 publications were analyzed, which received the most audience engagement during the discussion. Trained coders manually identified the parameters of these posts, as shown in the diagrams. Detailed methodology is available in the presentation.

Short conclusions:

  • During times of war, people are most angered by everyday topics that fall at the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, such as issues related to utilities, refugees, and basic necessities.
  • Pro-Russian authors are most frequently involved in exacerbating conflicts that align with their strategic narratives.
  • In the majority of topics, the blame is somehow placed on the authorities.
  • Understanding the opponent’s position is most often demonstrated in those contentious posts where the “sides of good” are represented.
  • Hostile language is most commonly used in internal political disputes.
  • The contentious “agenda” is predominantly set by Ukrainians themselves.

This research was developed with the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) by the Transformation Communications Activity (TCA) implemented by Prime Contractor Chemonics International Inc.