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Social networks and protest participation: evidence from 130 million Twitter users

Authors

  • J.M. Larson
  • J. Nagler
  • J. Ronen
  • J.A. Tucker

Journal

  • American Journal of Political Science

Citation

  • Am J Polit Sci 63 (3): 690-705

Abstract

  • Pinning down the role of social ties in the decision to protest has been notoriously elusive, largely due to datalimitations. Social media and their global use by protesters offer an unprecedented opportunity to observe real-time socialties and online behavior, though often without an attendant measure of real-world behavior. We collect data on Twitteractivity during the 2015 Charlie Hebdo protest in Paris, which, unusually, record real-world protest attendance and networkstructure measured beyond egocentric networks. We devise a test of social theories of protest that hold that participationdepends on exposure to others’ intentions and network position determines exposure. Our findings are strongly consistentwith these theories, showing that protesters are significantly more connected to one another via direct, indirect, triadic, andreciprocated ties than comparable nonprotesters. These results offer the first large-scale empirical support for the claim thatsocial network structure has consequences for protest participation.


DOI

doi:10.1111/ajps.12436