“Russia’s largest anti-government demonstrations since the Soviet breakup of 1991 are being organized and driven by a force that didn’t exist two decades ago — social media.
In recent years, protests have been relatively rare, and Russians who got their news from state-run television essentially saw one narrative — one that relentlessly extolled the virtues of the country’s leaders, particularly Vladimir Putin.
But demonstrators took to the streets last month after parliamentary elections that were widely seen as fraudulent. And activists are trying to maintain that momentum with slick Internet videos that satirize and disparage Russia’s government.
One of those videos welcomes viewers to a mental asylum, where the inmates vote for Putin, the current prime minister. Putin has already served two terms as president, from 2000 to 2008. His decision to run for a third term in March served as a rallying point for his critics, along with irregularities in the parliamentary voting.
Some 50 million Russians are now on the Internet, absorbing these videos and using it as a forum to vent their frustration over government corruption, the top-down political system, and alleged election fraud.
Internet, Facebook, Twitter and other social media helped mobilize the protests last month. The demonstrations were enormous. Tens of thousands protested in Moscow on Dec. 24, with some estimates putting the figure at as many as 100,000.”
Read more of this fascinating NPR article on the use of social media in organizing the Russian protests.