Tweet Then Dial: The Structure and Off-Platform Influence of Protest on Twitter
AbstractThe growth of the social media platform Twitter has opened up a tremendous space for cultivating online protest and for organizing offline protest. This report focuses on the specific protest action of placing a discontented phone call to congressional representatives as a means to interrogate the relationship between protest organization on Twitter and actual offline protesting. By making use of data collected from October to December 2017, we find that the intensity of protest calls-to-action on Twitter is most closely correlated with the intensity of off-platform protest interest 19 hours later. This finding provides preliminary evidence that networked protest on Twitter is generating offline protest. Further efforts at identifying influential users in the protest network using PageRank and k-shell decomposition surfaced anonymous, potentially-automated accounts that exerted non-trivial influence over the protest network. We model policy responses that seek to limit the reach of these suspicious accounts using linear programming and show that almost the entirety of protest engagement can be retained while simultaneously removing the influence of these worrisome accounts from the network.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:38811554
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