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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

Marco T. Bastos

City University London - School of Social Sciences

Dan Mercea

City University London - School of Social Sciences

Arthur Charpentier

National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE) - National School for Statistical and Economic Administration (ENSAE)

Date Written: March 8, 2015

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Bastos, Marco T. and Mercea, Dan and Charpentier, Arthur, Tents, Tweets, and Events: The Interplay between Ongoing Protests and Social Media (March 8, 2015). Journal of Communication, 2015. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2575268 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2575268

Marco Bastos (Contact Author)

City University London - School of Social Sciences ( email )

London
United Kingdom

Dan Mercea

City University London - School of Social Sciences ( email )

London
United Kingdom

Arthur Charpentier

National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE) - National School for Statistical and Economic Administration (ENSAE) ( email )

92245 Malakoff Cedex
France

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