THIS PROTEST WILL BE TWEETED: Twitter and protest policing during the Pittsburgh G20

Jennifer Earl, Heather McKee Hurwitz, Analicia Mejia Mesinas, Margaret Tolan, Ashley Arlotti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

69 Scopus citations

Abstract

This article examines the use of Twitter at protests surrounding the G20 meetings held in Pittsburgh, PA in September 2009. Based on work on information communication technologies and protest, and on more recent work on Twitter usage at protests, we develop several hypotheses about the content of tweets during protests. Most significantly, we argue that Twitter is a widely available mobile social networking tool that can be used to reduce information asymmetries between protesters and police. Examining the content of 30,296 tweets over a nine-day period, we find that protesters frequently used Twitter to share information, including information about protest locations, as well as the location and actions of police, which is information that was formerly monopolized by the police. Twitter use may be creating a new dynamic in protester and police interaction toward information symmetries. We conclude by identifying implications for policing practices and for protesters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)459-478
Number of pages20
JournalInformation Communication and Society
Volume16
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2013

Keywords

  • Twitter
  • information asymmetry
  • protest
  • protest policing
  • repression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Library and Information Sciences

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