Quantifying the power and consequences of social media protest

Deen Freelon, Charlton McIlwain, Meredith Clark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The exercise of power has been an implicit theme in research on the use of social media for political protest, but few studies have attempted to measure social media power and its consequences directly. This study develops and measures three theoretically grounded metrics of social media power—unity, numbers, and commitment—as wielded on Twitter by a social movement (Black Lives Matter [BLM]), a counter-movement (political conservatives), and an unaligned party (mainstream news outlets) over nearly 10 months. We find evidence of a model of social media efficacy in which BLM predicts mainstream news coverage of police brutality, which in turn is the strongest driver of attention to the issue from political elites. Critically, the metric that best predicts elite response across all parties is commitment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)990-1011
Number of pages22
JournalNew Media and Society
Volume20
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018

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Law enforcement
social media
protest
news
political movement
twitter
political elite
social movement
police
elite
coverage
driver
commitment
evidence

Keywords

  • Black Lives Matter
  • computational methods
  • connective action
  • protest
  • social movements
  • Twitter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Sociology and Political Science

Cite this

Quantifying the power and consequences of social media protest. / Freelon, Deen; McIlwain, Charlton; Clark, Meredith.

In: New Media and Society, Vol. 20, No. 3, 01.03.2018, p. 990-1011.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Freelon, Deen ; McIlwain, Charlton ; Clark, Meredith. / Quantifying the power and consequences of social media protest. In: New Media and Society. 2018 ; Vol. 20, No. 3. pp. 990-1011.
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