On February 10th, a video of an anonymous Ukrainian woman hit YouTube and it's gone viral. In the video, the woman tells the story of the protests and corrupt government in Ukraine. She begins her straightforward appeal by saying, "I am the Ukrainian." She asks for support for the people of her country and tells of her fear that the Internet and phones will be cut off and the citizens of Ukraine will be left alone. Comments are flying and while most express support for the bravery of the Ukrainian people protesting on Maidan and in other cities, there are detractors who call this video a hoax.
In fact, the filmmaker, Ben Moses, who put the video together and released it on YouTube has direct contact with the young woman. I asked him who she is and why she's speaking out. In order to keep her identity confidential and keep her safe, he's not saying a word about that. He's letting the video and the response to it speak for itself, but he did share what he experienced when he was in Kyiv in early December as the protests began.
"I was in Ukraine preparing a film on democracy -- and the lack thereof -- when the protests overwhelmed everything. Hundreds of thousands of ordinary people flooded the streets, finally fed up with the corruption and ceaseless power grabbing by the leaders of this government. Meeting the people in the protests -- many families with children -- and hearing their stories propelled me to try and do something to spread the word about what their issues really are. This young woman personifies the vast majority of the people on the streets in the country, and speaks to the heart of the protest. The vast 99% are not thugs or neo-Nazis, they are ordinary citizens who have simply had enough."
The Kyiv Post ran a brief article about the video commenting on the connection between political action and social media.
"If the 2004 Orange Revolution that stopped Viktor Yanukovych from taking power in a rigged presidential election was the SMS text revolution, the 2013-2014 EuroMaidan Revolution that seeks to topple him from power could be described as the YouTube, Facebook and Twitter revolution -- reflecting the evolution of technology and social media."
So all of this begs the question, will this Ukrainian woman remain safe after speaking out? Can you go viral and remain anonymous?