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A Social Capital Explanation of Facebook and Twitter Effects on Protest Participation

Sun, May 28, 14:00 to 15:15, Hilton San Diego Bayfront, Floor: 2, Indigo 202B


Several studies show positive effects of social media use on protest behavior. Less is known about the mechanisms through which these effects occur. Here, two possible routes of social media influence are examined: the affordances of strong- and weak-tie networks. More specifically, it is argued that Facebook use promotes protest participation via strong-tie networks, while Twitter use has a similar effect through weak-tie networks. To test these expectations, two separate studies were conducted: one is based on a cross-sectional survey on a representative sample of young adults in Chile, another is based on a two-wave online panel survey of a general sample in the U.S. The findings are largely consistent across studies, that is, while both Facebook and Twitter have positive effects on protesting, the paths through which this influence occurs are different. Thus, different platforms are responsible for mobilizing different sets of social resources available in users’ social networks.