Ukraine
The Bright Team
The Bright Team • Mar 03

Ukraine

by The Bright Team

Hello, and welcome back to the Bright newsletter! We’re always happy to be in touch with you, but never more than now, when keeping connected feels like both a privilege and a responsibility. Our theme this week is what is on the top of everyone’s mind -- Ukraine.  While there are no shortage of views on this war, we all share the deepest concern for and solidarity with the Ukrainian people as they face this invasion.

The war of words has been underway for years now, starting in earnest during the 2014 invasion of Crimea. Russian bot networks are filling social media channels with propaganda and memes, their weapons of choice, whilst Russian intelligence agencies are producing fake content by “ordinary Ukrainians” who are, in fact, AI-generated social accounts with AI-generated faces. But unlike previous cyber/information operations, Russia’s efforts to control the narrative in Ukraine have fizzled. Why? How did Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the Ghost of Kyiv become the meme heroes of this war?

The answer is an object lesson in what it takes to get social media governance right, and why existing social networks can't do so. For every fake account and false narrative from Russia, Ukrainians have masterfully responded with live, timestamped, verifiable footage of what’s happening. When Russia claims Zelenskyy is dead, he pops up on video, in daylight, in Kyiv, referencing contemporaneously occurring events. When Russia claims that it is protecting civilians, dozens of videos crop up showing indiscriminate bombing of apartment complexes in Kyiv and Kharkiv. And while Russia has not found a single compelling personality to promote in this war, Ukraine has dozens, from Zelenskyy himself to the woman who famously told Russian troops to put sunflower seeds in their pockets so that flowers would mark their graves.

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The point here is that while narrative matters, you can still fight a false narrative with enough facts and evidence.  That's happening now despite the existing networks, not because of them. For Bright, promoting verifiable information is a central component of our approach to social media: combat misinformation with reliability and trust. To help provide some valuable context and reliable information, we want to share a few articles we've read or posted that are worthwhile. First, we look back at Prof. Anthony King's article, given its prescient discussion of the role AI plays in urban conflict in the 21st century. Then, we read Lucie Guano-Dent's exploration of why specific conflicts capture our attention (like Ukraine) while others, like those in the Middle East, may not. 

As always, we’re eager to hear your thoughts and continue the discussion. We encourage you to submit articles of your own and to join the Bright community. And do sign up for the wait list so that, as soon as the beta app launches, you’ll be able to be a part of the conversation on Bright itself.  

Until then, thanks for being a part of our community, and we'll see you on Bright.

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The Bright Team
The Bright Team

Two lawyers, two doctors, and an army officer walk into a Zoom meeting and make Bright the best digital social community in the world. The team’s education and diversity of experience have given us the tools to confront some of the toughest tech and social problems.

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