Overthrowing the Dictator: A Game-Theoretic Approach to Revolutions and Media
34 Pages Posted: 27 Jul 2013 Last revised: 12 Dec 2016
Date Written: December 1, 2016
A distinctive feature of recent revolutions was the key role of social media (e.g. Facebook, Twitter and YouTube). In this paper, we study its role in mobilization. We assume that social media allow potential participants to observe the individual participation decisions of others, while traditional mass media allow potential participants to see only the total number of people who participated before them. We show that when individuals’ willingness to revolt is publicly known, then both sorts of media foster a successful revolution. However, when willingness to revolt is private information, only social media ensure that a revolt succeeds, with mass media multiple outcomes are possible, one of which has individuals not participating in the revolt. This suggests that social media enhance the likelihood that a revolution triumphs more than traditional mass media.
Keywords: social media, mass media, revolution, coordination game, sequential games
JEL Classification: C72, D02, D74
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation