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Social Media and Protest Participation: Evidence from Russia

Author

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  • Enikolopov, Ruben
  • Makarin, Alexey
  • Petrova, Maria

Abstract

Do new communication technologies, such as social media, reduce collective action problem? This paper provides evidence that penetration of VK, the dominant Russian online social network, affected protest activity during a wave of protests in Russia in 2011. As a source of exogenous variation in network penetration, we use information on the city of origin of the students who studied together with the founder of VK, controlling for the city of origin of the students who studied at the same university several years earlier or later. We find that a 10% increase in VK penetration increased the probability of a protest by 4.6%, and the number of protesters by 19%. Additional results suggest that social media has affected protest activity by reducing the costs of coordination, rather than by spreading information critical of the government. In particular, VK penetration increased pro-governmental support and reduced the number of people who were ready to participate in protests right before the protests took place. Also, cities with higher fractionalization of network users between VK and Facebook experienced fewer protests. Finally, we provide suggestive evidence that municipalities with higher VK penetration received smaller transfers from the central government after the occurrence of protests.

Suggested Citation

  • Enikolopov, Ruben & Makarin, Alexey & Petrova, Maria, 2016. "Social Media and Protest Participation: Evidence from Russia," CEPR Discussion Papers 11254, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:11254
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Ruben Enikolopov & Maria Petrova & Ekaterina Zhuravskaya, 2011. "Media and Political Persuasion: Evidence from Russia," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(7), pages 3253-3285, December.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Marco Manacorda & Andrea Tesei, 2016. "Liberation Technology: Mobile Phones and Political Mobilization in Africa," HiCN Working Papers 217, Households in Conflict Network.
    2. Gagliarducci, Stefano & Onorato, Massimiliano Gaetano & Sobbrio, Francesco & Tabellini, Guido, 2017. "War of the Waves: Radio and Resistance during World War II," IZA Discussion Papers 11244, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. repec:eee:jcecon:v:46:y:2018:i:2:p:656-682 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Bursztyn, Leonardo & Cantoni, Davide & Funk, Patricia & Yuchtman, Noam, 2017. "Polls, the Press, and Political Participation: The Effects of Anticipated Election Closeness on Voter Turnout," CEPR Discussion Papers 12088, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    5. Toke Aidt & Gabriel Leon & Max Satchell, 2017. "The Social Dynamics of Collective Action: Evidence from the Captain Swing Riots, 1830-31," CESifo Working Paper Series 6773, CESifo Group Munich.
    6. Müller, Karsten & Schwarz, Carlo, 2018. "Fanning the Flames of Hate: Social Media and Hate Crime," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 373, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    7. Michalopoulos, Stelios & Papaioannou, Elias, 2017. "Spatial Patterns of Development: A Meso Approach," Working Papers 4, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, Opportunity and Inclusive Growth Institute.
    8. Bei Qin & David Strömberg & Yanhui Wu, 2017. "Why Does China Allow Freer Social Media? Protests versus Surveillance and Propaganda," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 31(1), pages 117-140, Winter.
    9. Aidt, T. S. & Leon, G. & Satchell, M., 2017. "The Social Dynamics of Collective Action: Evidence from the Captain Swing Riots, 1830-31," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1751, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    10. repec:eee:pubeco:v:159:y:2018:i:c:p:1-15 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Ruben Enikolopov & Maria Petrova & Konstantin Sonin, 2018. "Social Media and Corruption," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 10(1), pages 150-174, January.
    12. Petrova, Maria & Sen, Ananya & Yildirim, Pinar, 2017. "Social Media and Political Donations: New Technology and Incumbency Advantage in the United States," CEPR Discussion Papers 11808, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    13. Camilo García-Jimeno & Angel Iglesias & Pinar Yildirim, 2018. "Women, Rails and Telegraphs: An Empirical Study of Information Diffusion and Collective Action," NBER Working Papers 24495, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. Davide Cantoni & David Y. Yang & Noam Yuchtman & Y. Jane Zhang, 2017. "Are Protests Games of Strategic Complements or Substitutes? Experimental Evidence from Hong Kong's Democracy Movement," NBER Working Papers 23110, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    15. Ascensión Andina-Díaz & José A. García-Martínez & Antonio Parravano, 2017. "The market for scoops: A dynamic approach," Working Papers 2017-03, Universidad de Málaga, Department of Economic Theory, Málaga Economic Theory Research Center.
    16. Frye, Timothy & Borisova, Ekaterina, 2016. "Elections, protest and trust in government: A natural experiment from Russia," BOFIT Discussion Papers 9/2016, Bank of Finland, Institute for Economies in Transition.
    17. repec:spr:sochwe:v:49:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s00355-017-1067-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    18. Breyel, Corinna & Grigoriadis, Theocharis, 2016. "Foreign agents? Natural resources & the political economy of civil society," Discussion Papers 2016/18, Free University Berlin, School of Business & Economics.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    collective action; impact of technology adoption; political protests; social media;

    JEL classification:

    • D7 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making
    • H0 - Public Economics - - General

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