Modelling the Role of Social Media at Street Protests

Author(s): Waldherr, A., N. Wijermans
In: Advances in Social Simulation 2015 528: 445-449
Year: 2017
Type: Book chapter
Theme affiliation: Complex Adaptive Systems
Link to centre authors: Wijermans, Nanda
Full reference: Waldherr, A., N. Wijermans. 2017. Modelling the role of social media at street protests. In Wander J., R. Verbrugge, A. Flache, G. de Roo, L. Hoogduin, C. Hemelrijk. Advances in Social Simulation 2015 528: 445-449.


Occupy, the Gezi park movement, the Maidan protests, or the recent solidarity marches for Charlie Hebdo—since the uprisings of the Arab Spring, we could observe many examples of on-site protests on big squares and streets being accompanied by waves of collective action in social media. We present the design stage of an agent-based model that will allow us to explore the following questions: What role does social media play in street protests? How does social media usage influence the dynamics of collective action during street protests? Do social media affect the speed, scale, fluctuation, duration of the protest at large, and in which way? Do they impact specific crowd patterns, e.g., the development of groups within groups? The model builds on and integrates existing models of social media, protests, and crowd behavior to simulate the dynamics of street protests in an urban setting. Our central aim is to compare scenarios with intense, moderate, and no social media usage by the protesters.


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