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Longitudinal change in language behaviour during protests: a case study of Euromaidan in Ukraine

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Abstract

In the last decade, online social media has become the primary platform for protesters to organize and express their agenda in various parts of the world. Despite the topic of protests being extensively studied, the question of language preference behaviour in online social media during the protests in multilingual countries is not covered enough. Most of the previous studies regarding language change either lack panel data or report simple aggregated statistics such as the number of comments in the particular language before and after some significant event. To fill this gap, we analyze a new dataset of the Facebook group called EuroMaydan that was explicitly created to facilitate the protest in Ukraine from November 2013 to February 2014. Moreover, our analysis follows the group even after the end of the protest till June 2014. This group had more than 300,000 subscribers when the data was collected. We use this panel data to test how users switched between two dominant languages in Ukraine: the Ukrainian language (the first language for most of the population and the official state language of Ukraine) and Russian (the second most common after Ukrainian). We also investigate the triggers of these changes to understand why some people change their language on social media to Russian from Ukrainian and vice versa.

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Availability of data and material

Data was collected in June 2014 using open source Netvizz application from the Facebook group. Data can be shared upon request after NDA.

Code availability

For code snippets, please contact the corresponding author, that is, ivan.slobozhan@ut.ee.

Notes

  1. https://www.facebook.com/EuroMaydan.

  2. Please, be aware that the official revolution name is Euromaidan, but admins who created this group used a slightly different spelling.

  3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_in_Ukraine.

  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ukrainian_language.

  5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Languages_of_Ukraine.

  6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_Ukrainian_revolution.

  7. https://fasttext.cc/.

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Funding

This work has received funding from the EU H2020 program under the SoBigData++ project (Grant Agreement No. 871042).

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Contributions

IS: Formal analysis, Investigation, Validation, Visualization, and Writing-original draft. TB: Data curation, Problem formulation, and Writing-Review and Editing. RS: Supervision, and Writing-Review and Editing.

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Correspondence to Ivan Slobozhan.

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Slobozhan, I., Brik, T. & Sharma, R. Longitudinal change in language behaviour during protests: a case study of Euromaidan in Ukraine. Soc. Netw. Anal. Min. 12, 107 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s13278-022-00931-7

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