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How Social Media Is Changing Conflict

Thomas Zeitzoff

Journal of Conflict Resolution, 2017, vol. 61, issue 9, 1970-1991

Abstract: Social media increasingly plays a role in conflict and contentious politics. Politicians, leaders, insurgents, and protestors all have used it as a tool for communication. At the same time, scholars have turned to social media as a source of new data on conflict. I provide a framework for understanding social media’s influence on conflict through four interrelated points: (1) social media reduces the costs of communication, (2) it increases the speed and dissemination of information, (3) scholars should focus on the strategic interaction and competitive adaption of actors in response to communication technology changes, and (4) the new data that social media provides are not only an important resource, but also fundamentally change the information available to conflict actors, thereby shaping the conflict itself. In sum, social media’s influence on conflict defies simplistic explanations that argue that it privileges incumbents or challengers.

Keywords: conflict; social media; repression; protest; radicalization; technology (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2017
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