On February the 24th, Russia launched a full scale attack on Ukraine. Millions of people are fleeing their homes, their country, and thousands of people have lost their lives so far. Our hearts go out to Ukraine, their friends and family, and to all those who are suffering in this time of war.
For those of us who are merely bystanders of this conflict, there are ways we can help. One thing we felt we could contribute as a company - and share with others looking for similar information - is some advice on how we can all use social media mindfully during this harrowing time.
1. Follow reputable sources
When gathering information, it’s worth making sure you know where that information has come from and where your source has got it from too. Checking past articles and researching the reputation of the news outlet will help you decide whether or not the facts you are gathering are accurate or not. Independent journalists can sometimes be a fairly reliable place to go.
Something to look out for: Twitter is now adding labels to Tweets with links that are related to Russian state-controlled media outlets, allowing you to quickly spot potentially harmful propaganda and make sure that you are gathering your facts from the right sources.
2. Fact check before sharing
Something we’ve all become conscious of over the last few years is fact checking. Even when you have found your information from a reputable source, you should still check to make sure it’s definitely correct. Cross reference details with other trustworthy news sources to make sure you’ve definitely got it right.
Something to look out for: through Meta's new special operations centre set up to monitor information passing through its systems about the conflict online, they have began adding warning labels to war-related images that it detects are over a year old. This should help you to spot whether the info you are sharing is current and accurate, and similarly, if the information you are coming across from other users is trustworthy.
3. Be selective with hashtags
Even if you are trying to be supportive by raising awareness to the situation online, it’s important to make sure you are using the correct hashtags. Don’t accidentally clog up news channels that are providing vital information by using hashtags that are related to key information.
4. Sensitivity check before publishing
Before posting or sharing anything online, stop and ask yourself, “how sensitive is this post to what is happening at the moment?” You might find that it’s inappropriate, insensitive, or just unnecessary.
Something to look out for: we live in a world where memes have taken over the internet, and there has been no shortage of them produced in relation to this crisis. However, before sharing or engaging with them, make sure to ask yourself how appropriate it really is. On the one hand, memes can be one way of dealing with really difficult situations, and it can help people to understand something in more relatable terms. But equally, they may trivialise what's going on and make light of something at the expense of others. So, always think first.
5. Double check audio and lyrics in videos
Similarly, it’s worth double checking audio and music tracks that might be used in Reels or on TikTok. While usually something might seem like “just a song”, you might find that it actually isn’t okay to use at the moment due to inappropriate themes or connotations.
Something to look out for: on the subject of TikTok, some users are posting fake videos and streams of old or manufactured war related clips in an attempt to monetise what could become popular content. Examples of military training are being reframed as current events in Ukraine and gaining popularity on the app and simply and deliberately spreading misinformation - while TikTok now plans to label Russian state-controlled media on the app, the same can't be said for videos posted by other pro-war Russian groups and users.
6. Check scheduled posts
Be sure to also check any scheduled posts. This is a quickly changing situation so a post that was scheduled a week ago may no longer be appropriate for its upload tomorrow. It may also be worth checking other recently published posts in case they too have changed in tone.
7. Use your platform for good
Overall, thinking twice about everything you do online is best practice, but where possible, use your posts and your platform to support those in need too. Businesses with an online following have an ability to reach a wide audience so it's important to speak up on where you stand, promote helpful resources - whether they are charities to donate to or trustworthy news sources - encourage others to do the right thing and take action, and continue growing your business so that your platform can reach even further.
Finally, here are some charities that you can donate to to help support those in Ukraine:
Donate directly to the Ukraine military: https://war.ukraine.ua/donate/
United Help Ukraine focus on providing medical supplies: https://www.facebook.com/donate/337101825010055/
Supporting the children impacted by the war: https://voices.org.ua/en/
Ukraine Humanitarian Appeal which the UK Government is going to match up to £25 million: https://donation.dec.org.uk/ukraine-humanitarian-appeal