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Twitter Politics

COMM 5735 New Media and Society Presentation

Zhao Zoe

on 16 December 2012

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Transcript of Twitter Politics

Twitter Politics By Zoe Zhao
from MSc in New Media Twitter Politics 1.What Is Twitter?
2.Twitter In Arab
3.Twitter In China
4.Liberation Technology Outline of Presentation What Is Twitter? Twitter In Arab World Twitter is an online social networking service and microblogging service that enables its users to send and read text-based messages of up to 140 characters, known as "tweets".

It was created in March 2006 by Jack Dorsey and launched that July. The service rapidly gained worldwide popularity, with over 500 million active users as of 2012, generating over 340 million tweets daily and handling over 1.6 billion search queries per day.

------From WiKipedia "Twitter" Frontpage of Twitter, Most ppl in mainland China can't see this:( 2011—Around the world, young people—students, workers, and the unemployed—are bringing their grievances to the public square. Protests have spread throughout the world, from Tunis to Cairo, Tel Aviv to Santiago de Chile, and Wall Street to Oakland, California. The specific grievances differ across the countries, yet the animating demands are the same: democracy and economic justice.(Schiffrin, Anya; Kircher-Allen, Eamon (2012-05-01). From Cairo to Wall Street: Voices from the Global Spring )

Among the diverse purposes, social media such as Twitter and Facebook play pivotal roles in the mobilization process of all the above movement. The Role of Social Media Social media afforded Arab opposition leaders the means to
A. Shape repertoires of contention
B. Frame the issues
C. Propagate unifying symbols
D. Transform online activism into offline protests. The Role of Social Media The Role of Social Media Shape repertoires of contention Repertoire of contention refers, in social movement theory, to the set of various protest-related tools and actions available to a movement or related organization in a given time frame.
Repertoires are often shared between social actors; as one group (organization, movement, etc.) finds a certain tool or action successful, in time, it is likely to spread to others. However, in addition to providing options, repertoires can be seen as limiting, as people tend to focus on familiar tools and actions, and innovation outside their scope is uncommon (see diffusion of innovations). “Repertoires of collective action designate not individual performances but means of interaction among pairs or larger sets of actors. A company, not an individual, maintains a repertoire” (Tilly 1995a, 27) Repertoires of Contention in Arab Spring ‘‘I want to meet Mark Zuckerberg one day and thank him . . . if you want to liberate a society just give them the Internet’’.
by Wael Ghonim, a marketing manager for Google A.Gathering Notice Egyptians gather in Tahrir Square to mark the one year anniversary of the revolution on January 25;2012 in Cairo Egypt. Tens of thousands are gathering in the square on the first anniversary of the Arab uprising which toppled President Hosni Mubarak. According to DeNardo, Number in Social Movements can generate power, directly influencing the decision of the government.(Power in Numbers,1985) Repertoires of Contention in Arab Spring B.Riot/Violence Definition:Framing refers to the social construction of a social phenomenon often by mass media sources, political or social movements, political leaders, or other actors and organizations. It is a concept borrowed from Goffman (1974:21) to denote "Schemata of interpretation" that enable individuals "to locate, perceive , identify, and label" occurrences within their life space and the world at large. The Role of Social Media Frame The Issues Frame The Issues We are all Khaled Said Death of Khaled Mohamed Saeed Frame The Issues We are all Khaled Said Khaled Mohamed Saeed (January 27, 1982 – June 6, 2010) was a young Egyptian man who died under disputed circumstances in the Sidi Gaber area of Alexandria on June 6, 2010, after being arrested by Egyptian police.

Photos of his disfigured corpse spread throughout online communities and incited outrage over allegations that he was beaten to death by Egyptian security forces. A prominent Facebook group, "We are all Khaled Said", moderated by Wael Ghonim, brought attention to his death and contributed to growing discontent in the weeks leading up to the Egyptian Revolution of 2011. In October 2011, two Egyptian police officers were found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to seven years in prison for beating Saeed to death. Twitter Profile More Like an information portal linked to the international community than a communication platform. During the Iranian Green Movement in 2009, Twitter users turned Green for the people of Iran. When searching for the tag #iranelection, a lot of avatars were green. In this case, Green icon becomes a unifying symbol. Propagate unifying symbols Transform online activism into offline protests. The movement gained a boost from the solidarity of many people who supported it without necessarily participating in it.---Jose Bellver <From New York to Madrid and Back Again> Compared with Facebook, Twitter is more useful in spreading the information of offline protests to a large scale. Actually, #Egypt was the most popular hashtag on Twitter in 2011. Example: "Though Facebook is used by everyone, Twitter is kind of an elitist network in Tunisia, and there were not more than two thousand members at the time, but many on Twitter were well-known activists, journalists, and bloggers, which made them very efficient in spreading the news wordwide.”
---Haythem El Mekki, Tunisian journalist and blogger In a phenomenon well-known by both complexity scientists and crowd psychologists, the network has self-reinforcing bent: call it peer pressure, or call it emergent behavior, but through corroboration and validation, an idea grows until, eventually, you get a Tahrir Square, a Pearl Square, a Benghazi — the Tiananmens of the social media age. In other words, Twitter doesn't create revolutions; people do. But Twitter can certainly help. Twitter and offline Politics The activists are not embarrassed to be tweeting in English — in fact, this key element is what allows the much bigger exoskeleton of democratic protest to tightly interface to the core. Twitter users are said to influence each other if they follow each other. These relationships are shown with lines. Individual users are placed near the individuals they influence, and factions near the factions they influence. Node size represents the extent of a user's influence across the entire network. Color, meanwhile, is based on the language they tweet in — a choice that itself can be meaningful, and clearly separates different strata of society. The Diffusion of Egypt Revolution Twitter In China Twitter is blocked in Mainland China since the July 2009 Ürümqi riots. Since then, it has became a highly-political forum where activists and dissidents conduct their daily resistance and digital activism.

It's hard to estimate the total number of Twitter users in China. According to @Kielboat 's article, in April 2008, there're only 7000 Chinese users, but in 2010 March, the estimated number of active users is 20000-40000, the total number may reach 100000. Resistance Identity
In Chinese Twitter Users In his masterpiece <The Power of Identity>, Manuel Castells introduces three types of identity: Legitimizing Identity, Resistance Identity and Project Identity. According to his elaboration of the concept, resistance identity is "generated by those whose are in positions/conditions of being devalued and/or stigmatized by the logic of domination"(Castells, 1997).
Since Twitter users are suppressed by mainstream and official narratives in their daily life, we can borrow the concept of resistance identity to illustrate both the online and offline behavior of Chinese Twitter users. By putting emphasis on the differences of "we" and "Others" and using the same symbolic icon, users formed a dense and decentralized community. Grass Mud Horse 中國孱弱不堪的反對派們被執政黨打壓得不敢冒頭,中國孱弱不堪的反對派們被執政黨打壓得不敢冒頭, V for Vendetta Online Behavior Online Behavior Anti-GFW Online Behavior Symbolic Power Based on the work of Bourdieu, Thompson develops the concept of symbolic power, which derives from ‘the activity of producing, transmitting and receiving meaningful symbolic forms’ (1995: 16). Symbolic power makes people see and believe certain visions of the world rather than others and directs them to act on the world accordingly (Bourdieu, 1991). Symbolic power makes Twitter users believe they are part of a larger community which refuses to be brainwashed by mainstream values and political propaganda. Offline Behavior Twitter Users define themselves as Grass Mud Horses, which fight a constant battle with River Crab Army. (cc) image by rocketboom on Flickr (cc) image by quoimedia on Flickr Activism Offline circusee Twitter Gathering Different Threshold Different Behavior "Twitter Gathering" usually takes the form of potluck party(推聚). According to the demographic and geographic numbers collected by anonymous netizen, Guangzhou, Beijing and Shanghai are still the basecamp of Twitter users, but users of other medium-sized cities are also increasing quickly. Take Nanjing as an example, when I first use Twitter in 2009, I seldom saw users with the bio location Nanjing. But nowadays, we have a Nanjing Twitter User community, consisting of approximately 40-50 people, half of whom are students. Twitter Gathering Twitter Gathering This kind of gathering is highly political no matter how relaxing the atmosphere may be. AiWeiwei “River Crab” Party Offline circusee Nov 7 ,2010, at least 1000 people gathered in Shanghai Malu Studio, and most of them are Twitter users. Jasmine in China Activism It's worth noticing that most participants become good friends, conducting many follow-up activities. As Twitter community evolves, online resistance identity of Chinese users is on the wane.
Previously, everyone is pride to become a Grass Mud Horse. Nowadays, however, some users refuse to be called a member of this league.
Some users will comment in a sarcastic tune that many Twitter advocates are "democratic fighter", conducting Slacktivism and keyboard democracy.
Users quarrel about the definition of democracy, freedom and non-violence, the possibility of democratization, the future of political reform etc. Dissolution of Resistance Identity Twitter Gathering in HeFei, by @LuoFee Symbolic Power Before 2011, Aiweiwei plays a crucial role in the identity construction process of Twitter users. Nowadays, people take a more balanced view towards him. Dissolution of Resistance Identity A new league called "Anti-anti Party" appear. Dissolution of Resistance Identity The Anti-anti Party not only criticize the government but also take a critical and sometimes cynical view towards the dissidents. Twitter users no longer reach consensus over public affairs. Dissolution of Resistance Identity Dissolution of Resistance Identity However, the discussion in Twitter sometimes becomes personal attack, failing to result in any constructive advise. Liberation Technology? Larry diamond defines "liberation technology" (Diamond,2010)as those technologies which can "enables citizens to report news, expose wrongdoing, express opinions, mobilize protest, monitor elections, scrutinize government, deepen participation, and expand the horizons of freedom." Broader socio-political factors must be taken into consideration in assessing the relationship between technology and activism. Really? The Battle for Cyberspace
will CONTINUE... Liberation Technology? Liberation Technology? Compared with Arab world, China: 1.More subtle online censorship system
2.Army is entirely controlled by CCP
3.Low English adoption rate
4.Less mature opposition parties
5.Strict social management system
6.... Be Careful of Self-selection Bias! Thank You! by Zoe Zhao
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