Honors Capstone Project
Date of Submission
Professor Jongwoo Han
Professor Matt Bonham
Citizenship and Public Affairs
Capstone Prize Winner
Won Capstone Funding
Comparative Politics | Political Science
The expansion of online social media (OSM) and networked information technology (NIT) use has coincided with reinvigorated democratic movements around the world, including the toppling of authoritarian governments in Tunisia and Egypt in 2011. This paper examines the variety of uses for Twitter during the Egyptian revolution, as Hosni Mubarak’s regime collapsed in less than three weeks after 30 years in power.
To achieve this analysis, this paper first divided the revolution into Fisk’s four stages of political crisis. Next, the authors extracted 37,634 tweets containing key words from an archive of 16 million tweets collected from January 23-February 8, 2011. It then identified 14 categories of tweets (including Call to Action, Information Sharing, Expression of Support, and Opinion) by manually annotating a randomly selected sample of nearly 6,000 sent during the uprising. This manual annotation allowed the authors to develop category-specific patterns. After entering these patterns into a Java program, the authors ran an Automatic Content Analysis that tallied the number of tweets in each category per stage of political crisis. By correlating the Content Analysis results with the known chronology of the revolution, the results provide the answers to several questions regarding the use of Twitter during the political crisis.
Throughout the revolution, Twitter was primarily used as an information-sharing tool, distributing news, updates, and critical information to protesters. As the crisis progressed, however the uses of Twitter adapted to various government policies and developments in the uprising. This examination of Twitter use can also serve as a stepping stone for other political or information scientists interested in studying the networked public sphere (NPS) and how the use of technology affects political movements.
Benson Fay, Alexander Craig, "The Egyptian Revolution Goes Viral: Reading Categories of Tweets in the Twitter-created Networked Public Sphere" (2012). Syracuse University Honors Program Capstone Projects. 175.
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