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Zeynep Tufekci, Personal Democracy Forum NYC 2011 “Agents of Change”

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Presentation on theme: "Zeynep Tufekci, Personal Democracy Forum NYC 2011 “Agents of Change”"— Presentation transcript:

1 Zeynep Tufekci, Personal Democracy Forum NYC 2011 “Agents of Change”

2 The power of strong ties, the power of weak ties Understanding Social Media & Social Change

3 Challenges to Collective Action under Autocracies Information diffusion Information diffusion “Hidden Preferences” -what do others think? “Hidden Preferences” -what do others think? Synchronization Synchronization Shaping the public sphere Shaping the public sphere Organizing mass / political action Organizing mass / political action Publicity / visibility / solidarity Publicity / visibility / solidarity

4 So What Does Social Media Add to Dissent under Autocracies? Nothing? Nothing? Same thing, maybe faster? Same thing, maybe faster? Negative because of surveillance / censorship? Negative because of surveillance / censorship?

5 Social Media Alters: Ability to connect Ability to connect Shape of the Network Shape of the Network Speed of Information Diffusion Speed of Information Diffusion

6 One-to-Many Network (Broadcast)

7 First Target in a Coup!

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9 Demonstrators, too!

10 “The whole world is watching”

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12 Thus… Reshaping the public(s) Reshaping the public(s) Changing the mood Changing the mood

13 Lessons from Epidemiology Shape of network + speed of transmission Key to success of quarantines Shape of network + speed of transmission Key to success of quarantines Autocracies play “whack-a-protest” Autocracies play “whack-a-protest” Isolate/Supress/Crush/Censor/Wait Isolate/Supress/Crush/Censor/Wait Worked for decades! Worked for decades!

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16 Many-to-Many Networks

17 Altered Dynamics State is a resource-constrained actor State is a resource-constrained actor Social media, by allowing mass coordination and rapid information diffusion, complicates “whack-a-protest” Social media, by allowing mass coordination and rapid information diffusion, complicates “whack-a-protest” Attention economy is key to politics – speed of information diffusion matters! Attention economy is key to politics – speed of information diffusion matters!

18 Example: Tunisia Gafsa: Gafsa: Mining town, protests over corrupt hiring Mining town, protests over corrupt hiring Isolated, crushed (quarantined) Isolated, crushed (quarantined) 28,000 Facebook users in Tunisia 28,000 Facebook users in Tunisia Sidi Bouzid: 2010 Sidi Bouzid: 2010 Mohamed Bouazizi’s self-immolation Mohamed Bouazizi’s self-immolation Protests spread (viral) Protests spread (viral) Almost 2,000,000 Facebook users in Tunisia Almost 2,000,000 Facebook users in Tunisia

19 The Tunisian Blogosphere (by: Dominique Lahaix ecairn) Aggregators Marketing/pub Personal Diaries Perso with some politics

20 The US lifestyle Blogosphere

21 The Claim: Social Media Unsuitable for Dissent Social Media only about weak ties Social Media only about weak ties Protest only moves through strong ties Protest only moves through strong ties Weak ties don’t matter to success of protest Weak ties don’t matter to success of protest

22 In Reality Social media ties include both weak and strong ones Social media ties include both weak and strong ones Tie strength is dynamic! Tie strength is dynamic! Weak ties create publics! Weak ties create publics! Bridge ties (which can be weak ties) crucial for avoiding censorship and isolation Bridge ties (which can be weak ties) crucial for avoiding censorship and isolation

23 New Ties; New Connectivity

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25 Online to Offline – finding friends, finding politics

26 Agents of Change Tools *do* matter because they alter: Tools *do* matter because they alter: Shape of networks – many-to-many Shape of networks – many-to-many Possibility for/speed of information diffusion Possibility for/speed of information diffusion Creation of counterpublic(s) Creation of counterpublic(s) Fighting with camels in the Internet age Fighting with camels in the Internet age But tools do not create the courage and dignity we are witnessing But tools do not create the courage and dignity we are witnessing

27 Thank you! Zeynep Tufekci


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