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Tents, tweets, and events: The interplay between ongoing protests and social media

Bastos, M. T., Mercea, D. & Charpentier, A. (2015). Tents, tweets, and events: The interplay between ongoing protests and social media. Journal of Communication, 65(2), pp. 320-350. doi: 10.1111/jcom.12145


Recent protests have fuelled deliberations about the extent to which social media ignites popular uprisings. In this article, we use time-series data of Twitter, Facebook, and onsite protests to assess the Granger causality between social media streams and onsite developments at the Indignados, Occupy, and Brazilian Vinegar protests. After applying Gaussianization to the data, we found contentious communication on Twitter and Facebook forecasted onsite protest during the Indignados and Occupy protests, with bidirectional Granger causality between online and onsite protest in the Occupy series. Conversely, the Vinegar demonstrations presented Granger causality between Facebook and Twitter communication, and separately between protestors and injuries/arrests onsite. We conclude that the effective forecasting of protest activity likely varies across different instances of political unrest.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is the accepted version of the following article: Bastos, M. T., Mercea, D. and Charpentier, A. (2015), Tents, Tweets, and Events: The Interplay Between Ongoing Protests and Social Media. Journal of Communication, 65: 320–350., which has been published in final form at
Publisher Keywords: Social Media, Contentious Politics, Granger causality test, Occupy, Indignados, Vinegar Protests
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > Sociology & Criminology
SWORD Depositor:
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