TWEETING REACTIONS: AN ANALYSIS OF TWITTER RESPONSES TO THE KERCH STRAIT NAVAL CLASH BETWEEN RUSSIA AND UKRAINE
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Beginning in 2013, the conflict in Ukraine has had several instances of Russian influence. The naval clash in the Kerch Strait between the two was the first open confrontation. Aided by media representation, a military crisis can evoke a rally-round-the-flag effect – an external threat uniting citizens. This study investigates this incident by examining whether a rally effect is possible in Ukraine in a social media era. Utilizing mediatization and framing theories, this study analyzes how the clash was framed by the most popular Twitter accounts and with sentiment analysis examines comments for the online public response. The findings show the rally effect did not occur. Despite a consistent anti-Russian narrative by popular accounts, the comments section showed a mixed negative response towards Ukraine, Russia, and the government. This research argues that through social media people access counternarratives beyond those of official statements and perpetuate official, contesting, and disinformation narratives online.