Diffusion of Protest-related Information on Social Media
Daegu Gyeongbuk International Social Network Conference (DISC) 2013
Diffusion of Protest-related Information
on Social Media
December 13, 2013
Se Jung Park
Yon Soo Lim
Han Woo Park
Social media can serve as an effective tool for social
movements, enabling users to reach the widest
The “Occupy Wall Street” (OWS) protest initially
organized in New York City has spread rapidly
across the world through social media networks and
thus has become a global issue.
Caren and Gaby (2011) explored how OWS movement
was diffused on Facebook.
Chang, Pimentel, and Svistunov (2011) examined Twitter
about OWS protest by labeling sentiments reflected in a
total of. 1,980 tweets.
Xie, Natsev, Kender, Hill, and Smith (2011) tracked
28,478 relevant videos featuring the Iranian election on
These studies suggested that the function of social media
as an effective communication channel is useful for
facilitating collective action.
However, they focused on the role of a specific social
media. The distinct functions among social media
cannot be identified.
This study aims to understand how protest-related
information is diffused on social media in
featuring a specific social movement, “Occupy Wall
Also, this study systematically identifies the distinct
functions of two major social media platforms
(Twitter and YouTube) by comparing the
A user’s (@occupyWallst) communication network on
Twitter representing “mention” and “reply-to” relationships
in the latest tweets was captured on May 1, 2012, by
NodeXL was used to extract YouTube videos whose
titles, keywords, descriptions, categories, or usernames
contained the keyword "OccupyWallStreet." A total of 462
videos created from May 29, 2010, to May 2, 2012
Social Network Analysis
Descriptive metrics of the networks were computed to
measure the structure and overarching characteristics of
Twitter and YouTube networks through NodeXL.
User Profile Analysis
To examine the range of information distribution and the
potential of social mobilization, this study identifies the
geographic location of users in Twitter and YouTube
network based on their profile information
The typology of the network reflected a hub-and-spoke
structure, indicating that there were several key users who
played opinion leaders in the communication network.
The official OWS account occupied a central position in the
network. This implies that the user successfully played a role
not only as a key informant in the movement but also as a
broker of the issue, forming bridges between other key
clusters in the network.
This type of structural feature suggests that the few hub users
have more power than others in terms of the network position
and can effectively influence and control others in
diffusing protest-related information.
the OWS network on YouTube was a small-world
network, sharing similar content, and densely interconnected
with one another, sharing the same keywords.
Darker and larger nodes (higher ratings and views) tended to
be central in the network, whereas pink ones (no ratings) were
small and located in the periphery.
Popular YouTube clips (a high number of views) were more
likely to receive high ratings.
This suggests that the number of views is not only
indicative of public attention but also related to the
public’s positive arousal.
The geographic location of users
Twitter network was organized by critical several hubs
who played core roles as opinion leaders in
disseminating information and bridging other users in
In the YouTube network, popular videos that had been
rated by a number of viewers were highly
clustered, reinforcing their similar voices by using same
keywords in tags.
Despite the limited number of non-U.S. users in both
networks, the diversity of international actors illuminates
the potential function of social media in globalizing a
This study identified how protest-related information is
diffused on social media by examining the network
structures of two major social media platforms.
This study found the distinct functions of social media
platforms. Protest-related information can be actively
disseminated on Twitter, and the information can be
reinforced on YouTube.
In sum, the functional combination of social media
platforms can facilitate information diffusion
processes to arouse a wide range of people into
Thank you for your attention !
Se Jung Park
Communication, Georgia State University
Yon Soo Lim
Advertising & Public Relations, Hongik University
Han Woo Park
Media & Communication, Yeungnam University