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zeynepnytIn a New York Times op-ed, UNC Professor Zeynep Tufekci analyzes the dynamics of large-scale protests spurred by social media, such as the mass funeral held last week in Istanbul, Turkey. Tufekci argues that “Protests like this one, fueled by social media and erupting into spectacular mass events, look like powerful statements of opposition against a regime. … Yet often these huge mobilizations of citizens inexplicably wither away without the impact on policy you might expect from their scale.” Tufekci proposes that “Digital tools make it much easier to build up movements quickly, and they greatly lower coordination costs. This seems like a good thing at first, but it often results in an unanticipated weakness: Before the Internet, the tedious work of organizing that was required to circumvent censorship or to organize a protest also helped build infrastructure for decision making and strategies for sustaining momentum. Now movements can rush past that step, often to their own detriment.”


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