Tents, Tweets, and Events: The Interplay between Ongoing Protests and Social Media
Journal of Communication, 2015
38 Pages Posted: 8 Mar 2015 Last revised: 6 Sep 2015
Date Written: March 8, 2015
Recent protests have fueled deliberations about the extent to which social media ignites popular uprisings. In this paper we use time-series data of Twitter, Facebook, and onsite protests to assess the Granger-causality between social media streams and onsite developments at the Indignados, Occupy, and Brazilian Vinegar protests. After applying a Gaussianization procedure to the data, we found that contentious communication on Twitter and Facebook forecasted onsite protest during the Indignados and Occupy protests, with bidirectional Granger-causality between online and onsite protest in the Occupy series. Conversely, the Vinegar demonstrations presented Granger-causality between Facebook and Twitter communication, and separately between protestors and injuries/arrests onsite. We conclude that the effective forecasting of protest activity likely varies across different instances of political unrest.
Keywords: Social Media, Contentious Politics, Granger causality test, Occupy, Indignados, Vinegar Protests
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