Collective action under autocracies
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Collective action under autocracies

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Slides of my talk in Cairo University, Egypt on May 30th. Talk organized by IDRC

Slides of my talk in Cairo University, Egypt on May 30th. Talk organized by IDRC

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  • 1. Zeynep Tufekci, Ph.D. Organized by IDRC in collaboration with Cairo University and UNDP Cairo University, May 30th
  • 2. I nternet and social change Social Media and Collective Action Under Autocracies
  • 3. A Little About Me
    • Zeynep Tufekci
    • Assistant Professor of Sociology
    • Technosociology.org
    • Twitter: @techsoc
    • Honored to be here!
  • 4. A Little About the Talk
    • The credit, of course, goes to the amazing people of Egypt
    • But tools/methods always have an impact
    • Analyzing/presenting mechanisms
  • 5. Challenges to Collective Action
    • Information diffusion
    • Shaping the public sphere
    • “ Hidden Preferences” -what do others think?
    • Synchronization
    • Mass action
  • 6. Social Media and Impacts
    • Does social media give us the same results, maybe just faster?
    • Or, does it qualitatively change the dynamics?
  • 7. What Does Social Media Change?
    • Network -level effects
      • Shape/structure of the network
      • Speed of transmission
    • Field effects
      • Reshaping/recreating a public sphere
    • Network to field effects
      • Information cascades
      • Revealing of hidden preferences
  • 8. Information/Censorship
    • Autocracies traditionally hold monopoly on broadcast, TV, radio, print
    • Effective Censorship
    • Propaganda
  • 9. Connectivity Revolution
  • 10. Connectivity Revolution
  • 11. Anti-censorship/citizen media
    • Spread of cell-phones with cameras
    • Al-Jazeera, itself plugged into social media
    • Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Dailymotion, Blogs, SMS, etc.
    • Game-changer
  • 12.  
  • 13. Society-level Prisoner’s Dilemma
    • How do I know what my neighbor thinks?
    • Does my neighbor know what I think?
    • How does my neighbor know that I know what she thinks?
    • Does my neighbor’s neighbor understand that we are both against the autocracy?
    •  (Trans)formation of the public sphere
  • 14. Public Sphere(s)
    • Through Facebook/Blogs/Twitter, people crossed the redlines and taboos in Egypt, Tunisia, elsewhere
    • New discourses emerged as public discourses
    • Different than being an individual dissenter
  • 15. Hidden Preferences
    • When there is mass dissent...
    • But everyone is afraid to stick their neck out!
    • Information/politicization can occur cascades – once the floodgates open, it roars.
  • 16. Syncronization of Actions/Beliefs
    • H ard for people to synchronize their beliefs or their actions in a one-to-one manner
    • Slow, dangerous
  • 17. Mass Action
    • Requires a ready public
    • Requires information diffusion
    • Requires synchronization
    • Requires ... Courage!
      • No shortage of that!
  • 18. Social Media and Autocracies
    • Social Media has an impact on all these challenges to collective action under autocracies
    • Mechanisms combine and interact
  • 19. Social Media:
    • Increased participation
    • Faster information diffusion
    • Changes to shape of connectivity networks
    • Audience reshuffling: (re)uniting and (re)segmentation
  • 20. Increased Participation
    • Strengthens dynamics on-the ground
      • Can result in consolidation or polarization
    • Opens door to oral culture – people who might not have traditional “high” literacy
    • Emotional Transference (via Mahmoud Salem)
  • 21. Social Media
    • Does not just allow communication
    • Allows rapid, many-to-many communication
    • Which is a qualitative change
    •  People could always talk to each other, but one or few at a time
  • 22. The shape of the network
    • Existing:
      • One-to-Many (Broadcast)
        • Powerful to the powerless
      • One-to-one/few (Face-to-face, telephone, etc.)
        • Peer-to-peer
    • Addition:
      • Many-to-many
        • Peer-to-peer
  • 23. One-to-Many Network (Broadcast)
  • 24. One-to-Many Network (Broadcast)
  • 25. First Target in a Coup!
  • 26. First Target in a Coup!
  • 27. Demonstrators, too!
  • 28. One-to-One
  • 29. Many-to-Many Networks
  • 30. Lessons from Epidemiology
    • Speed of Transmission
    • Speed of Recovery
    • Shape of Network
      • Hubs and connectivity increases contagion
    • These factors determine
    • whether a quarantine will work
  • 31.  
  • 32.  
  • 33.  
  • 34. Altered Dynamics
    • State is a resource-constrained actor
    • Autocracies often have evolved to play “whack-a-protest”
    • Social media, by allowing mass coordination and rapid information diffusion, complicates “whack-a-protest”
  • 35. Audience Reshuffling/ Reorganization
    • Segmentation of audiences
    • The attention economy and speed
    • Counter-broadcast and attention monopoly
      • (was Tahrir empty on #May27?)
    • From Wikileaks to Facebook to #Jan25
  • 36. State Responses
    • Surveillance
      • Numbers versus hiding
    • Propaganda
      • Television versus social-network based
      • Muddying the waters
    • Censorship
      • Dictator’s (and Bin Ladin’s Dilemma)
  • 37. Dictator’s Dilemma
    • Internet/mobiles integrated into daily life
    • Used for many purposes besides politics
    • Cut it off and everyone is upset, business suffers
    • Leave it on and it allows for dissent
    • Game changer – it can be censored, but that requires a lot of effort
  • 38. Polarization and Civil War
    • Social media does not guarantee unity
    • Social media does not create dissent where there is none
    • Social media strengthens dynamics on the ground
    • Bahrain, China, etc.
    • Civil war and brutal repression
  • 39. Hierarchy
    • Social Media / Open Networks can create hierarchies
    • “ Power Law” or the 80/20 rule – a few people/blogs/webpages get most of the links and the attention
    • The process can become self-perpetuating
  • 40. Preferential Attachment
  • 41. Hierarchy/Governance
    • Shuffling the network around
    • Transparency
    • Accountability
    • Self-organization – as in #May27
  • 42. Example: Tunisia
    • Gafsa: 2008.
      • Mining town, protests over corrupt hiring
      • Isolated, crushed (quarantined)
      • 28,000 Facebook users in Tunisia
    • Sidi Bouzid: 2010
      • Mohamed Bouazizi ’s self-immolation
      • Protests spread (viral)
      • Almost 2,000,000 Facebook users in Tunisia
  • 43. Thank you! Questions?
    • Zeynep Tufekci
    • [email_address]
    • twitter: @techsoc
    • www.technosociology.org