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Launching Revolution: Social Media and the Egyptian Uprising’s First Movers

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  • Clarke, Killian
  • Kocak, Korhan

Abstract

Drawing on evidence from the 2011 Egyptian uprising, this article demonstrates how the use of two social media platforms – Facebook and Twitter – contributed to a discrete mobilizational outcome: the staging of a successful first protest in a revolutionary cascade, referred to here as ‘first-mover mobilization’. Specifically, it argues that these two platforms facilitated the staging of a large, nationwide and seemingly leaderless protest on 25 January 2011, which signaled to hesitant but sympathetic Egyptians that a revolution might be in the making. It draws on qualitative and quantitative evidence, including interviews, social media data and surveys, to analyze three mechanisms that linked these platforms to the success of the January 25 protest: (1) protester recruitment, (2) protest planning and coordination, and (3) live updating about protest logistics. The article not only contributes to debates about the role of the Internet in the Arab Spring and other recent waves of mobilization, but also demonstrates how scholarship on the Internet in politics might move toward making more discrete, empirically grounded causal claims.

Suggested Citation

  • Clarke, Killian & Kocak, Korhan, 2020. "Launching Revolution: Social Media and the Egyptian Uprising’s First Movers," British Journal of Political Science, Cambridge University Press, vol. 50(3), pages 1025-1045, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:bjposi:v:50:y:2020:i:3:p:1025-1045_11
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    Cited by:

    1. Jing Zhao & Xufeng Zhu, 2023. "Spreading expertise: think tanks as digital advocators in the social media era," Policy and Society, Darryl S. Jarvis and M. Ramesh, vol. 42(3), pages 359-377.
    2. Daniel Silverman & Karl Kaltenthaler & Mujtaba Ali Isani, 2022. "Don't rock the boat? Fears of conflict and support for protest in Iraq and beyond," WIDER Working Paper Series wp-2022-168, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    3. Bharati, Tushar & Jetter, Michael & Malik, Muhammad Nauman, 2022. "Types of Communications Technology and Civil Conflict," IZA Discussion Papers 15311, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. Antonio Cortés-Ramos & Juan Antonio Torrecilla García & Miguel Landa-Blanco & Francisco Javier Poleo Gutiérrez & María Teresa Castilla Mesa, 2021. "Activism and Social Media: Youth Participation and Communication," Sustainability, MDPI, vol. 13(18), pages 1-13, September.
    5. Pedro Ramaciotti Morales & Jean-Philippe Cointet & Caterina Froio, 2022. "Posters and protesters," Journal of Computational Social Science, Springer, vol. 5(2), pages 1129-1157, November.

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