Social networks significantly Ukrainianized during full-scale invasion - study

18:30 19 July Kyiv, Ukraine

The Content Analysis Center found out that during the 4 months of a full-scale invasion, social networks were noticeably Ukrainianized. For the analysis, messages were collected from the most popular social networks in Ukraine - Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok. And also from the banned, but still used in some territories, Russian platforms VK and OK.

The frequency of use in each use in each social network of pairs of words (lexemes) that have different roots in the Ukrainian and Russian languages has been calculated.. We are talking about such lexemes as krok / step, heart / June, tsukor / sugar, garbuz / pumpkin, likarnya / hospital.

The lexemes traveled through various aspects of human life - nutrition, everyday life, household economics, health, etc.

In total, 866,000 messages containing the named lexemes and written between June 5 and July 5, 2022 by users who indicated Ukraine as their place of residence in their profile were collected and analyzed.

A similar study on an identical set of lexemes was first conducted by the Content Analysis Center in October 2020.
“Two years ago, the space of social networks remained the territory of almost total dominance of the Russian language. At that time, only every sixth message was made in social networks in the state language,” the researchers note.
In the fourth month of the war, the Russian language lost its dominant position in the Ukrainian segment of social networks. But if we consider
the most common platforms together, it still predominates noticeably (37% of posts in Ukrainian versus 63% in Russian).
The key social networks Facebook, Twitter and Instagram showed a significant Ukrainianization of users compared to the fall of 2020. To a certain extent, this is due to the entry into force in January 2021 of the provisions of the law on customer service in Ukrainian, as a result of which most organizations providing services switched to the state language of maintaining their pages.

At the same time, the current study showed that among private accounts, the share of posts in Ukrainian (45%) grew even more than among communities and interest groups.
"It is logical to assume that the Ukrainization of the space of social networks was not only due to legislation, but was also the result of the language choice (self-determination) of users," the researchers note.
At the same time, the study showed that the Russian language still dominates in other popular social networks in Ukraine.. The share of content in the Ukrainian language YouTube remains surprisingly small (5%), which is most likely due to monetization algorithms.

A similar trend was shown by TikTok - a communication environment for children, adolescents and youth. The share of materials in the state language here remained at the pre-war level.

The Russian platforms VKontakte and Odnoklassniki, which have been banned in Ukraine since 2017, ceased to be a platform for official communication five years ago.. And after February 24, obviously, they lost a significant part of the users who still used it.

According to the researchers, this has actually turned Russian social networks into a medium for communication between people who, for the most part, are indifferent to socio-political issues or are outspoken supporters of Russia.

As for the regional dimension, compared to 2020, there is a noticeable Ukrainization of users in the western regions of Ukraine. While the most Russified region (along with the Donbass and Crimea) is the Odessa region, where only every fourth message on social networks is written in Ukrainian.

The share of posts in Ukrainian in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions was minimal in June, probably for two reasons - the occupation and the forced relocation of most residents to other regions of Ukraine.