Social Media and Protest Participation: Evidence from Russia

67 Pages Posted: 9 May 2016

See all articles by Ruben Enikolopov

Ruben Enikolopov

Institute of Political Economy and Governance; New Economic School; ICREA; Universitat Pompeu Fabra; Barcelona GSE

Alexey Makarin

Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Maria Petrova

Barcelona Graduate School of Economics (Barcelona GSE)

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: May 2016

Abstract

Do new communication technologies, such as social media, reduce collective action problem? This paper provides evidence that penetration of VK, the dominant Russian online social network, affected protest activity during a wave of protests in Russia in 2011. As a source of exogenous variation in network penetration, we use information on the city of origin of the students who studied together with the founder of VK, controlling for the city of origin of the students who studied at the same university several years earlier or later. We find that a 10% increase in VK penetration increased the probability of a protest by 4.6%, and the number of protesters by 19%. Additional results suggest that social media has affected protest activity by reducing the costs of coordination, rather than by spreading information critical of the government. In particular, VK penetration increased pro-governmental support and reduced the number of people who were ready to participate in protests right before the protests took place. Also, cities with higher fractionalization of network users between VK and Facebook experienced fewer protests. Finally, we provide suggestive evidence that municipalities with higher VK penetration received smaller transfers from the central government after the occurrence of protests.

Keywords: collective action, impact of technology adoption, political protests, social media

JEL Classification: D7, H0

Suggested Citation

Enikolopov, Ruben and Makarin, Alexey and Petrova, Maria, Social Media and Protest Participation: Evidence from Russia (May 2016). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP11254, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2777540

Ruben Enikolopov (Contact Author)

Institute of Political Economy and Governance ( email )

Ramon Trias Fargas, 25-27
Barcelona, 08005
Spain

New Economic School ( email )

Skolkovskoe shosse 45
Moscow, Skolkovo 143026
Russia

ICREA ( email )

Passeig Lluís Companys, 23
Barcelona, 08010
Spain

Universitat Pompeu Fabra ( email )

Ramon Trias Fargas, 25-27
Barcelona, E-08005
Spain

Barcelona GSE ( email )

Ramon Trias Fargas, 25-27
Barcelona, Barcelona 08005
Spain

Alexey Makarin

Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF)

Via Sallustiana, 62
Rome, Lazio 00187
Italy

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) ( email )

London
United Kingdom

Maria Petrova

Barcelona Graduate School of Economics (Barcelona GSE) ( email )

Ramon Trias Fargas, 25-27
Barcelona, Barcelona 08005
Spain

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