Occupy Online: Facebook and the Spread of Occupy Wall Street

20 Pages Posted: 22 Oct 2011 Last revised: 4 Jul 2014

Neal Caren

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill - Department of Sociology

Sarah Gaby

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill - Department of Sociology

Date Written: October 24, 2011

Abstract

Since Occupy Wall Street began in New York City on September 17th, the movement has spread offline to hundreds of locations around the globe. Social networking sites have been critical for linking potential supporters and distributing information. In addition to Facebook pages on the Wall Street Occupation, more than 400 unique pages have been established in order to spread the movement across the US, including at least one page in each of the 50 states. These Facebook pages facilitate the creation of local encampments and the organization of protests and marches to oppose the existing economic and political system. '

Based on data acquired from Facebook, we find that Occupy groups have recruited over 170,000 active Facebook users and more than 1.4 million “likes” in support of Occupations. By October 22, Facebook pages related to the Wall Street Occupation had accumulated more than 390,000 “likes”, while almost twice that number, more than 770,000, have been expressed for the 324 local sites. Most new Occupation pages were started between September 23th and October 5th. On October 11th, occupy activity on Facebook peaked with 73,812 posts and comments to an occupy page in a day. By October 22nd, there had been 1,170,626 total posts or comments associated with Occupation pages. The density of Facebook activism is highest in college towns and in state capitals. Major uses for Facebook within the movement include the recruitment of people and resources to local occupations; information sharing and story telling; and across-group exchanges. While the focus of Occupy Wall Street is on mobilizing individual’s offline, online activities greatly facilitate these efforts.

Keywords: Occupy Wall Street, Social Networks, Social Movements

Suggested Citation

Caren, Neal and Gaby, Sarah, Occupy Online: Facebook and the Spread of Occupy Wall Street (October 24, 2011). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1943168 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1943168

Neal Caren (Contact Author)

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill - Department of Sociology ( email )

Chapel Hill, NC 27599
United States

Sarah Gaby

University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill - Department of Sociology ( email )

Chapel Hill, NC 27599
United States

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