- Social Media Activism and State Censorship
- Book title
- Social media, politics and the state: protests, revolutions, riots, crime and policing in the age of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube
- Number of pages
- Document type
- Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
- Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA)
This chapter interrogates how activist social media communication in authoritarian contexts is shaped through the mutual articulation of social media user practices, business models, and technological architectures, as well as through the controlling efforts of states. It specifically focuses on social media protest activity and contention in China, Tunisia, and Iran, authoritarian states which have made a large effort to control online activity. The analysis shows that instead of blocking or repressing social media activism, authoritarian states rather shape online contention. Online censorship and offline repression push users to adapt their communication by creatively misspelling words, using synonyms, symbolic language and parody, and through self-censorship. Simultaneously by using commercial platforms activists effectively lose control over their data, and over the spaces through which they communicate. This is particularly problematic in authoritarian settings, in which activist communication depends on specific technological arrangements and on the ability to keep sensitive data out of the hands of the authorities. Finally, while activist social media communication is shaped by Internet censorship and encapsulated by commercial social platforms, activists are constantly exploring new ways to evade censorship, but also to regain control over their collective data. They do so through technical means, especially filtering circumvention tools, but also by posting and translating information across different social media services, and by setting up their own platforms to curate their data.
- In fact publ. 2014
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