Trans-nation information dissemination about Hong Kong Occupy Central Movement on Twitter

Research output: Conference Papers (RGC: 31A, 31B, 32, 33)32_Refereed conference paper (no ISBN/ISSN)

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Detail(s)

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 21 May 2015

Conference

Title65th annual conference of the International Communication Association (ICA, 2015), preconference: New Media and Citizenship in Asia: Civic Engagement for Sustainable Development across the Life Span
PlaceUnited States
CitySan Juan
Period21 - 25 May 2015

Abstract

Numerous studies have examined the role of social media in information diffusion, connectivity, mobilization and participation in social movements. However, existing scholarly work has mostly focused on individual-level networks on social media whereas nation-level networks created through user-level interaction and connectivity are largely understudied. The horizontal and decentralized global network and mass-self communication afforded by social media can translate a local social movement into a global event (Castells, 2013). It broadcasts a local movement to the international community mobilizing international support (Howard Hussain, 2011), and forms global public discourse around the event (Tufekci Freelon, 2013), which further influences its local development. This study examined the trans-nation information dissemination about Hong Kong Occupy Central movement on Twitter. Drawing on literature on diffusions including structural imperialism, supply and demand, and proximity, it specifically looked into the structures and properties of the nation-level communication network. 92,822 geo-referenced tweets with #occupycentral were collected, building a nation-level network consisting of 148 nations (nodes) and 1,421 interaction-based links (edges). It further examined how nations’ Internet user base, material grievances, political and civil rights conditions, and physical distance between nations predicted the information dissemination on the nation-level communication network. The results showed that the nation-level communication network created by individual interaction followed certain patterns of structural imperialism that information tended to flow from the developed center nations to under-developed peripheral nations but rarely the other way around. Among the geopolitical factors, a nation’s Internet use level and political and civil rights conditions were important predictors of its role in exporting and importing information. Internet use is often associated with online engagement ranging from seeking and disseminating information to airing discontent, expressing opinions and discussing and debating issues. Political and civil rights condition is often closely related to political mobilization and collective actions, and in particular one of the defining themes of the Occupy Central movement. Specifically, the findings suggested that a nation with a large Internet user base but limited political and civil rights tended to export information to other nations, whereas a nation with a small Internet user base and a good political and civil rights condition tended to import information from other nations. It implied that citizens from nations where political participation and civil engagement were repressed actively used social media to mobilize nations with a participatory citizenry for attention and support, and set the discourse about the event. It also supported the existing findings that Internet use can catalyze political actions. In addition, trans-nation information flow tended to occur between nations similar in Internet user base and political and civil rights conditions. Future research should take into consideration the micro-level factors (e.g., education, interest, efficacy, etc.), meso-level factors (e.g., participation culture of a nation, connectivity of the network within a nation, etc.) and macro-level factors (e.g., geopolitical factors and the nation-level structure network, etc.) when examining the role of social media use in social movements.

Citation Format(s)

Trans-nation information dissemination about Hong Kong Occupy Central Movement on Twitter. / ZHU, Qinfeng.

2015. Paper presented at 65th annual conference of the International Communication Association (ICA, 2015), preconference: New Media and Citizenship in Asia: Civic Engagement for Sustainable Development across the Life Span, San Juan, United States.

Research output: Conference Papers (RGC: 31A, 31B, 32, 33)32_Refereed conference paper (no ISBN/ISSN)