Vladimir Putin has been trying very hard to convince the world that he needs to intervene in Ukraine to “protect” Pro-Russian citizens. Half way around the world, the Bureau of Land Management has tried to convince the US that it is protecting endangered turtles from trespassing cattle in Nevada. Both causes have been undermined by the power of the internet.
Reports have been flooding out of Ukraine of captured Russian intelligence officers, troops operating inside Ukrainian borders with identifying unit patches and tags removed, and even of a Russian bank making $200 and $500 daily payments to Russian “terrorists” working to destabilize the Eastern region of Ukraine.
This video allegedly shows a Russian Army Lieutenant Colonel giving orders to police officers in the Ukrainian town of Horlivka:
Pro-Russian forces have stirred up riots, taken over police and government buildings and have even attacked an airport. All the while about 40,000 Russian combat troops are hanging near Ukraine’s border. This has put Ukraine in a catch-22, either they let the unrest continue and risk civil war, or move against the trouble areas with force risking an invasion by Putin to “protect” Russian citizens like he did in Crimea.
Other than what some call Putin’s propaganda machine, the Russian Times (RT.com), no one is really falling for Putin’s cause. The internet has been saturated with anti-Russian social media posts, revealing pictures of what appear to be Russian troops in Ukraine, and reports of captured Russian operatives.
The outcome has been dramatic. Tens of thousands are protesting in Moscow and the UN even released a report claiming ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine falsely claimed assault.
Closer to home, the US Bureau of Land Management (BLM) sent a mini-army of a couple hundred enforcement agents, contract workers, K-9 units and snipers into Nevada to “protect” endangered desert turtles. BLM claimed trespassing free roaming cattle from Clive Bundy’s ranch was putting endangered animals at risk. So they sent a large force in to confiscate the cattle.
Within days the internet was filled with images like this:
Apparently the BLM set up fenced in areas for reporters. Well this didn’t go over very well – no one used them and pictures again flooded the internet of the “First Amendment Area” signs with another sign added underneath saying, “The First Amendment is not an Area”. The fenced in areas were removed shortly thereafter.
Report of abuse by Federal officers also flooded the internet. One scuffle ensued between BLM officers and Bundy family members & supporters. A statement to the press by the BLM stated that the scuffle started when a K-9 dog was kicked. But again, this video flooded the interwebs showing that the real story might be different:
You can see from the video that at 23 seconds, a federal agent tackles a 50 year old lady from behind and seems to throw her to the ground. At 1:04 a K-9 officer appears to give both verbal and visual command for his dog to bite, and then again at 1:06.
The protestor seems to kick the dog after he tried to bite him.
Social Media exploded comparing the events in Nevada with Waco Texas and Ruby Ridge. The effect was immediate. People from as far away as New Hampshire began flocking to Nevada to stand in the gap with Clive and his family. This included armed members of several state militia and veteran groups.
The BLM has since stood down and has decided to fight the battle out in court. But again more reports have surfaced via the internet that the BLM wants to remove the cattle so that a Solar Power plant can be installed by a Chinese company, and that it has nothing whatsoever to do with trying to save turtles.
Some websites are claiming that the solar power plant report isn’t true, but it is very odd that the Federal Government would send in such a strong force to protect some turtles from cows. Especially when our southern border which needs additional help seems to get none.
But the truth is that in both cases presented here, the conflict in Ukraine and the BLM’s actions in Nevada, social media has had a huge impact of both public opinion and public action.