#Armenia versus #Հայաստան versus #Армения

Twitter is a great platform, but for better or worse, it added support for non-Latin alphabets quite late. Today media.am had a great article on the use of the hashtags #Armenia, #Հայաստան (Armenia in Armenian script), and #Армения (Armenia in Russian).

I thought that I’d add an additional layer by doing a NodeXL hashtag analysis.

Here’s #Armenia

nodexl

This is 2000 twitter users (a limit of 18,000 tweets) that used #Armenia in the last week. Group 1 are those that tweeted #Armenia but didn’t reply to or retweet anyone. Not surprisingly this is the majority of the use of this hashtag. They were mostly tweeting news stories about Armenia or were spammers.

The other groups though are quite interesting. They’re very tight clusters.
Group 2 seems to mostly be discussing the recent helicopter issue and features the popular Twitter user GoldenTent as well as the British Embassy in Armenia and the OSCE. Group 3 is talking about Armenia and Turkey and Kurds and seems to be mostly people in Turkey. Group 4 are talking about the city of Armenia in Colombia! Groups 6 and 10 are certainly Azerbaijanis based on the links that they share.

Here is #Հայաստան.

nodexl

This contains only 90 Twitter users with tweets from the last week. There are almost no clusters as you can see. It does appear that these users are mostly writing in Armenian though.

And this is #Армения.

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There were 162 Twitter users over the last week. Most were not replying or retweeting each others (see group 1) and their favorite links are usually instagram photos. Group 2, however, is considered a “broadcast” network where a lot of people were retweeting or replying to one user, SovietExplorer, a Russian news site. But Group 2 users didn’t have anything else in common other than a lot of tweets from Azerbaijani news sites. Group 6 is similar in a lot of posts from pro-regime Azerbaijani news sites.

I’d suggest that #Армения is a place where Azerbaijanis (also with Russian skills, obviously) are “seeking” to talk about Armenia.

Hashtag Shenanigans Again – Karabakh Edition, #azesaboteurs and #saveazehostages

It has been awhile since there has been hashtag shenanigans in the Caucasus. Some of the major hashtag shenanigans players fell out of favor. But this week things heated up again. I started seeing random odd tweets from accounts and upon clicking through it seemed like they were likely fake accounts – brand new, stock photos for the profile picture, few followers. These were usually in response to any criticism of Azerbaijan, but often with regard to Nagorno Karabakh.

This week the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan are meeting with French president François Hollande and last week the German Foreign Minister visited both countries. (John Kerry met with with last month, Putin in late summer, etc. etc.)

But perhaps of greater interest is that this week the authorities in Nagorno Karabakh put two Azerbaijani citizens on trial after they were caught crossing the border (a third was killed). The men say that they were going to visit relatives’ graves. The NK authorities say that the men killed a military officer. Azerbaijani authorities also note that NK has no right to hold a trial because it isn’t a recognized state.  RFERL story ArmeniaNow story Armenian RFERL

The other day I noticed a Twitter hashtag and Facebook group (with 8000+ “attending”) being promoted by the Azerbaijani ruling party’s youth wing. These sort of rallying around the flag issues are always interesting to me and I was a little surprised to see a lot of my oppositionally-minded Facebook and Twitter friends following this hashtag: #SaveAzeHostages. There was even a photo hashtag meme thing happening.

hashtag

Meanwhile, Armenians created their own hashtag: #AzeSaboteurs.

This quickly turned into a hashtag battle.

It appears as if there are some fake accounts of some sort. For example, look at all these duplicate tweets (red/pink = duplicate).

repeat2

Users zuma885, oqtay88, raminka10, and maxelmira, for example, have a lot of repeated tweets. And let us look at when these four joined Twitter! (Plus they use stock photos.)

These users showed up in both #SaveAzeHostages and #AzeSaboteurs.

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Here’s the network analysis for #Azesaboteurs. It seems like Azerbaijanis may have “taken it over” but not to the extent that we saw in previous hashtags like #armvote13.

nodexl

But look at #saveazehostages – what an interesting network analysis!

nodexl

That center is the official Twitter account of the ruling party’s youth wing. Another power player is msabina34 who seems to be most interesting in One Direction. She tweeted on this hashtag over 100 times in one hour! There are also a number of other fake accounts on this hashtag.

It isn’t too hard to buy fake twitter accounts, but I wonder if this is a worthwhile investment? It is so obvious. I guess that the person in charge of this (likely someone at that youth wing) wants to show that s/he is a really dedicated member?

As a side note:

But this went beyond hashtag shenanigans and turned into a DDoS war. Here’s a report on what Azerbaijani websites Armenians took down. I don’t have any reports from Azerbaijanis.

Caucasian attitudes toward joining international organizations

There is so much discussion about Armenia’s possible membership in the Eurasian Economic Union. Today I was in the 2013 Caucasus Barometer for other reasons and noticed that the EEU came up in a question. I’ve also posted the results for EU and NATO.

nato

eu

eeu

I’m a little annoyed that EEU wasn’t asked about in Azerbaijan. This is sort of a proxy question for attitude toward Russia.

September 2014 – Facebook ad suggestions at Facebook use in Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia

This is an update to this post from January and this post from March.

It is hard to know how many people in a country are using Facebook, but through Facebook’s Ad selling program, you can get some rounded information. The numbers they give are not exact, so these percentages displayed below are not accurate for the true number of users. THESE RESULTS MAY NOT ADD UP TO REASONABLE 100%S. I calculated everything from the actual population. So when it says 36% of Georgian women are X, I calculated from the population data from the World Bank. This isn’t SOLID information, but it does come FROM Facebook, so it is a little bit better than SocialBakers.

This is what it looks like to find out this information:

facebook

So, Armenia has 2,974,184 people, Azerbaijan 9,590,159 people, and Georgia 4,555,911 people total according to the World Bank and after I subtracted those age 0-14 (World Bank’s category, not mine) the populations are Armenia: 2,460,436; Azerbaijan: 7,419,487; Georgia: 3,855,233.

Facebook Ads says that this many people in each of those countries is a potential viewer of their ads (thus a Facebook user): Armenia: 580,000 (in January) 620,000 (in March) 680,000 (in September) ; Azerbaijan: 1,320,000 (in January) 1,380,000 (in March) 1,460,000 (in September); Georgia: 1,220,000 (in January) 1,280,000 (in March) 1,380,000 (in September).

Thus, here are the percentages of the age 14+ populations of each country who are on Facebook:

a(January)a2

14plussept

Armenia: 28%
Azerbaijan: 20%
Georgia: 36%

So that is interesting, but let us look at gender differences (I took the direct gender population data from the age distribution tables – this is not 50/50, but more accurate).

b(January)b2

popsept

Armenians and Georgians are evenly distributed gender-wise on Facebook. And Azerbaijanis, well, this gender difference isn’t surprising.

c(January)c2

gendersept

In terms of the balance of users, Armenians are fairly even, Georgians have a bit more women and you can see that about 2/3rds of Azerbaijanis on Facebook are men. Although this may seem shocking, this is much better than it has been in previous years.

d(January) EDIT: THIS SHOULD BE 15-24 YEAR OLDS!

d2

distrosepy

Wow Georgia! Most Georgian young adults are on Facebook, no doubt about that. About half of Armenian young adults and for Azerbaijan 60% of male young adults and a little over a third of female young adults.

For comparison, here’s Caucasus Barometer derived information from 2012 and 2013.

Social Media and Information Wars

The past few days have seen a notable increase in cease-fire violations on the frontline of Nagorno Karabakh, with deaths on both sides (although more Azerbaijani deaths).

I’m currently in Azerbaijan, but I keep an eye on both Azerbaijani and Armenian social media spaces and these are a few thing that have happened on the Internet in the past few days:

1. A simultaneous “hacking war,” where teams from both sides try to take down websites, especially news sites, in the other country. This is far from new. Check out this article on this topic from the year 2000! Samvel Martirosyan does a good job keeping track of these sort of attacks from the Armenian perspective. There has been a major increase in DDoS and other attacks in the last few days, including popular Azerbaijani tabloid Haqqin.az being taken down on Sunday morning, although by noon Baku time, it was back up.

BuFzHCSIAAQc6G1(When the hacking teams take the site over, the usually post a graphic with the attribution of the hacking team that took it down.)

2. Information about what is going on is spread via social media and inevitably, information is not sourced well on either side. Granted, media is so politicized in this region that individual social media posters sometimes are the only source of information on a given topic. However, it creates situations where a piece of information can spread via social media and become “truth” quickly. This is especially the case when it comes to the number of soldier deaths – an individual says “There were 2 soldiers shot in THIS PLACE today.” without any source attribution.  In my estimation, there are more “quasi” journalistic sources in Azerbaijan than in Armenia and in both countries they are sometimes the source of new information, but that’s just my impression.

A case of this is photos of tanks going to the front line. One social media based Azerbaijani news source posted a photo of tanks on a train that was widely liked and shared. Then another set of tank photos was shared via social media and originated from a Russian news site, but social media users demonstrated that the photos were old. While it is possible that tanks are going to the front and that some of the photos are recent, some are obviously not.

Another interesting case that came out was ANS-TV (Azerbaijani state TV)’s website posted that there were 51 casualties on the Armenian side, and cited an Armenian journalist named Eduard Abramyan’s (that’s an incorrect spelling of that surname, by the way) Twitter account. But savvy social media users saw that the ANS screenshot of the Armenian’s Twitter account had the “delete” button visible, and that can only appear if one is the OWNER of the Twitter account. (Photo via Meydan TV.)

graphic

3. Yet, it is understandable that people are getting news from social media. There was a lot of anger in Azerbaijan on Friday that the TV stations were not covering this major news story. (Photo via North Caucasus Caucus.)

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But at the same time, I wonder if the local TV stations CAN actually cover this story “live” a la CNN. I don’t know if they have the authorization to do so, or the capacity. Plus, this isn’t like an earthquake where there is a public service need to inform people “live” about what is going on. I suspect that people are angry and they want to direct their anger somewhere and the local TV stations are an open target.

4. And then there is the demonstration of concern about this issue via social media. The initial reaction amongst Azerbaijani social media users, across the political spectrum, was a great deal of profile and cover photo changes (or Instagram photo posts) to a black ribbon, sometimes with the Azerbaijani flag. (Much of it is of a religious nature as well, as noted by North Caucasus Caucus on Twitter, who is also collecting a lot of the social media posts.)

ribbon

ribbon2 remember

And beyond individuals, a number of the Facebook pages for Baku shops and eating establishments also started posting memorial graphics.

2014-08-02 20.31.402014-08-02 20.27.402014-08-02 19.51.102014-08-02 08.39.572014-08-01 11.54.512014-08-01 12.49.06

I guess if you’re a business, you’re damned it you, damned if you don’t.

For both individuals and businesses, there is a great deal of social pressure to demonstrate this sort of concern for this issue. I’m not saying that the concern is not genuine, but that social media encourages this sort of viral social pressure mentality. (See other cases of this here and here.) And this may be especially true in Azerbaijan where the demonstration of patriotism/nationalism is especially salient. (See here and here).

5. Twitter, unlike Facebook, is a space where Armenians and Azerbaijanis can “discuss” this issue and there certainly seems to be a lot of chatter, compared to the normal quantity of Twitter activity in both countries.

These are all the mentions of the word “Karabakh” on Twitter in the last 9 hours and the links between those users (note that most people in Armenia and Azerbaijan were sleeping at the time, so a lot of the posters are based in North America and Europe). Most mentions are disconnected from any other users – a lot of posting of news stories, basically. So this introduces a lot of people into a Twitter analysis who might just be posting a big news story “There is fight in Nagorno Karabakh” and they aren’t usually involved in regional Twitter stuff, nor are they engaging in any sort of discussion. This makes social media analysis tough!

Yet I have seen (not measured, but seen) an increase in random Armenians and Azerbaijanis responding to Twitter posts. I suspect that some (bored? young?) people do searches on Twitter to find people to “troll.”

In conclusion, this is a scary time and the escalation of violence is upsetting. Karabakh is a “frozen” conflict that is not actually frozen at all. And the Internet allows for information to be shared and disputed – which is both a good thing (more information from more sources may be good; and as more citizens have the ability to report on what they see, we know more about what is going on) and a bad thing (the ability to create false information, lack of attribution). Social media as a platform is similarly good and bad. People can demonstrate their concern for what is going on and discuss events, but also the harassment through hacking and trolling brings a lot of negativity to an already negative situation.

I wonder how the regimes themselves feel about all this social media information spreading. Are the regimes using it to their advantage or is it a dangerous unknown variable in the equation of battle?

There is a lot of other stuff going on in both states right now – Azerbaijan is in the midst of a human rights crackdown and Armenia is on track to become closer to Russia (who arms both sides of this conflict, FWIW). Escalations on the frontline may very well be a tool to distract citizens from other issues and rally them around a concern about “the enemy” – also this provides a good social pressure tool – “why are you so worried about X when our boys are being killed!?!”. And based on this social media analysis, people are very distracted by this escalation right now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Material Deprivation 2013 update

Material deprivation

Although many studies use income as a single indicator of socioeconomic status, certainly income is not a complete or direct measure of total economic wellbeing (Falkingham, 1999; Ringen, 1998). We use a consensual poverty measure, where the greater the number of consumable items absent, the greater the degree of material deprivation (Demirchyan & Thompson, 2008; Menchini & Redmond, 2009; Nolan & Whelan, 1996; for an extensive review, see Ouellette, Burstein, Long, & Beecroft, 2004), or what Boarini and Mira (2006) call objective satisfaction of basic needs. These have been shown to be most appropriate in the post-Soviet context (Falkingham, 1999; Kandiyoti, 1999; Rose & Mcallister, 1996), as income is low, irregular, and often not official. The scale used here (described by Rose, 2002) asked “what phrase best describes your family’s financial situation” and provided five choices.

Here’s the past.

And here’s some comparison over time (not comparing means, just giving frequencies.

MDyears

 

Trust and Relying on Others in the Caucasus

I’m working on a project right now that looks at trust, so I wanted to share some results from the 2013 Caucasus Barometer.

Here’s some work on trust from 2012. And more from the EBRD Life in Transitions study.

First, the generalized trust question – there is scholarly debate about how people interpret this question, but it seems like many people think that this means other people in the street and thus is tied up with sense of safety.

trust

In this case, Armenians are the least trusting, Georgians the most. (In an ANOVA, all these differences reported here are statistically significant).

 

But then when people are asked about their family/friends/neighbors helping, things change.

money

ill

reapir

In all of these, Azerbaijanis are far less likely to believe that their family/friends/whomever would help them.

Without a doubt, “help” isn’t the same as trust, but it does say something about being able to rely on others for help. And it looks like there are some very different patterns in these states.

Facebook in Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia

Number of Facebook users in the Caucasus is a popular topic. I did this analysis with data from Facebook itself.

From the 2013 Caucasus Barometer, we see that 20% of Armenian adults, 16% of Azerbaijani adults, and 26% of Georgian adults use Facebook at least once a week. (Also provided are the percentages out of Internet users.) This matches up pretty well with the Facebook information that had the following for those older than 14 in the countries: Armenia: 25%, Azerbaijan: 19%, and Georgia: 34%.

facebookusers

The Caucasus Barometer also asked about number of friends. This is always difficult because people aren’t sitting at their computers/phones and often have a hard time estimating.

friends2

The Caucasus Barometer asked about most frequent Facebook activities this year. See the chart above. I would have loved to have seen all activities asked about separately, as it is hard to really pin down one activity on Facebook, but oh well.

Interestingly, newsfeed reading is the most popular activity in Armenia and Georgia, whereas there is much greater variance in Azerbaijan. I suspect that the variance is due to the use of Facebook as a “free”(ish) space for deliberation in Azerbaijan whereas in Armenia and Georgia there are other places for free discussion.

fbactivities

 

Voting in 2013 – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia

The new Caucasus Barometer is out and I did some analysis on voting behaviors. (Here’s 2011 and Here’s 2012.)

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These voting rates seem to match up with the official reported rates.

fairness

Wow – this is all over the place. Georgia isn’t a surprise, Armenia is interesting, and Azerbaijan is depressing.

pARTICIPATE

Interesting with regard to the reported turn outs.