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How social media affects protest movements: It’s complicated

really interesting – bookmarking so I can find this later

Gigaom

If you mention social-media platforms like Twitter or Facebook in the context of political uprisings in places like Turkey or Ukraine or Egypt — or even the Occupy movement in the United States — the person you’re speaking to will likely either a) agree that they can be very powerful tools, or b) argue that they are just sound and fury, signifying nothing, and have had no real effect on the outcome of these movements.

But the truth is actually much more complex, according to sociologist Zeynep Tufekci, who has spent her career studying the effects of such social platforms on political behavior.

In a paper published in the Journal of International Affairs, Tufekci looks at this question in detail, based on her observations of and interviews with protesters in her native Turkey and elsewhere. And her conclusion is that while social platforms can have a positive impact on…

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