Our paper, entitled Tents, Tweets, and Events: The Interplay Between Ongoing Protests and Social Media, written with Marco Toledo Bastos (aka @toledobastos) and Dan Mercea (aka @DanMercea) just appeared in the Journal of Communication
Recent protest movements have fuelled deliberations about the extent to which social media ignite protests. In this paper we compare time-series data of Twitter, Facebook, and onsite protest activity to test the hypothesis of Granger-causality between social media streams and protestors attending demonstrations during the Indignados in Spain, the Occupy movement in the U.S., and the Vinegar protests in Brazil. After applying a Gaussianization procedure to the time series, we confirmed the hypothesis that contentious communication on Twitter and Facebook was Granger-causal of onsite protest activity during the Indignados and the Occupy protests, with bidirectional causality between online and onsite protest activity in the Occupy series. The Vinegar protests in Brazil presented Granger-causality only between Facebook and Twitter and between protestors and injured or arrested protestors. The results indicate that the causal relationship between online and onsite political varies considerably across different socioeconomic contexts with different levels of Internet penetration.