A Social Networks Approach to Online Social Movement:

Isa, A. M. (Grady Ph.D. student) & Himelboim, I. “A Social Networks Approach to Online Social Movement: Social Mediators and Mediated Content in #FreeAJStaff Twitter Network.” Accepted for presentation at the 2017 ICA Conference, San Diego, California.

Abstract: The movement to free Al Jazeera journalists (#FreeAJStaff), imprisoned by Egyptian authorities, utilized Twitter over almost two years, between 2014 and 2015. This study applied a social networks approach to study patterns of information flow, social mediators, and clusters, formed by the #FreeAJStaff movement on Twitter.Analysis of 22 months of data found social mediators (actors who connect two clusters) to be primarily core movement actors (e.g., Al Jazeera) or elites (e.g., politicians), rather than grassroots actors. Furthermore, core actors exhibited more reciprocal relationship with other users than elite actors. In contrast, elite actors were more successful evoking an exchange of messages. Last, this study identified the mechanism used to create a Spillover Effect between social movements (e.g., #FreeAJStaff and #FreeShawkan), finding that mediated content, which travels across clusters, was more likely to include non-FreeAJStuff movement hashtags, than siloed content, which remains within a cluster. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

Abu Daud Isa  Itai Himelboim 

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