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

  • Earl J
  • McKee Hurwitz H
  • Mejia Mesinas A
 et al. 
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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 communi- cation technologies and protest, and on more recent work on Twitter usage at pro- tests, 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 infor- mation 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.

Author-supplied keywords

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

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  • Jennifer Earl

  • Heather McKee Hurwitz

  • Analicia Mejia Mesinas

  • Margaret Tolan

  • Ashley Arlotti

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