Why Net Censorship in Times of Political Unrest Results in More Violent Uprisings: A Social Simulation Experiment on the UK Riots
17 Pages Posted: 16 Aug 2011
Date Written: August 14, 2011
Following the 2011 wave of political unrest, going from the Arab Spring to UK riots, the formation of a large consensus around Internet censorship is underway. Beyond all political consideration of consequences in terms of freedom of expression, the present paper adopts a social simulation approach to show that the decision to "regulate" or restrict social media in situations of civil unrest results in higher levels of violence. Building on Epstein's (2002) agent based model, several alternative scenarios are generated. Systemic optimum, represented by complete absence of censorship, not only corresponds to lower levels of violence over time, but allows for significantcant periods of social peace after each outburst.
Keywords: UK riots, Arab Spring, civil violence, Internet censorship, agent-based modelling, social simulation, social media tactical media, flash mobs.
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