Social movements have defined themselves as integral parts of participatory democracy. Although social media, and Facebook in particular, has been underscored as a catalyst of contemporary social movements, the relationship between Facebook information diffusion and actual protest mobilization has yet to be adequately studied. This project aims to explore ways in which Facebook information diffusion, represented by temporal Facebook URL data, led to the mobilization of March for Our Lives, one of the largest student-led demonstrations in American history. Two goals are proposed: First, we will examine diffusion patterns of movement-relevant information, categorized into (a) trigger events, (b) movement agents, (c) actionable events, and (d) misinformation that discredits the cause of movement. As part of the first aim, we will examine how the political and demographic characteristics of each state influences information diffusion patterns. Second, we will conduct statistical modeling to examine the effects of information diffusion–related variables on the onsite protest mobilization in each state. In addition to Facebook data, we will leverage government, academic, and news sources. This project will use state-level aggregate data only, posing a minimal risk to user privacy.
K. Hazel Kwon
Associate Professor, Arizona State University
Assistant Professor, Arizona State University