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Twitter and Tear Gas: The Power and Fragility of Networked Protest

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  726 ratings  ·  113 reviews
A firsthand account and incisive analysis of modern protest, revealing internet-fueled social movements’ greatest strengths and frequent challenges

To understand a thwarted Turkish coup, an anti–Wall Street encampment, and a packed Tahrir Square, we must first comprehend the power and the weaknesses of using new technologies to mobilize large numbers of people. An incisive
Hardcover, 326 pages
Published May 16th 2017 by Yale University Press
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Aug 19, 2017 rated it did not like it
Most of this book is a mixture of shallow "I was there" commentary and wishy-washy academic gobbledygook, e.g. "Throughout this chapter I have noted how the trajectory and the impact of the movement depend on the complex, mutual, and multilayered interactions and signals of capacity between those in power and those who seek to challenge them." How does this kind of conclusion help you change the world?

Based on a published review, I expected a thoughtful discussion of lessons learned from
A must-read article by Zeynep Tufekci about Facebook.

Dec 19, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, kindle, borrowed
A very interesting subject treated in a very uninteresting way. The author lurches between personal memoir, third-person history, and academic treatise in ways that are jarring and sometimes burdensome to follow.

This might be one of the first book-length treatments of social media and revolution, but it won’t be the last. And it will probably be heavily referenced by the book that eventually tells the definitive history of the subject.
Hilary Martin
Aug 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This should be mandatory reading for everyone in order to better understand how Social Media is affecting our lives for better and for worse.
Dec 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book is a must read for whomever even slightly interested in the idea of changing public sphere with collective action.

Author starts with an in-depth analysis of networked movements (social movements using internet and social media as organizing tools and a medium to express dissent) and explores their differences with pre-internet era movements. The evident advantage of networked movements is fast and easy organization on a large scale. But with this power also comes the movements'
Victoria Brown
Mar 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Zeynep Tufekci is the ideal author for this remarkable book. Her personal experience on the ground, online and talking to activists is the crowning jewel of this insightful book.

Tufekci is clearly a passionate activist and has been involved in the most important social movements of the past twenty years. However I found the criticisms most endearing about this work. Despite her obvious allegiances, Tufekci balances the strengths of digital technologies and inter connectivity with the often
Apr 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is asking the most important social questions of the moment: How technology is and isn't changing the political process and resistance to it. The quote she keeps repeating is that technology is neither good or bad, but it is also not neutral. Like Neil Postman and Marshall McLellan have observed before, the medium is the message. Just as print changed everything and then Television changed everything, we need to grapple with how social media has changed everything. There are a lot of ...more
Jul 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: grey
I have the feeling that this is going to be one of those books that stays in my head for a long time.

The author, Zeynep Tufekci, is a Turkish woman who has worked at the interface between academia, technology, and progressive movements for change for a few years now. She is the sort of person whose opinions of the Zapatista protest movement was formed in part by her personal visit to the Zapatista region in 1997, whose knowledge of the Tahrir Square protests in Egypt is formed by going to Egypt
May 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a must-read for anyone --- lay person or academic --- interested in the increasing role the Internet and social media has played in recent protests around the globe. Tufecki draws on her extensive first-hand experience with movements that have used recent technologies from the Zapatistas through Occupy and recent events in the Middle East and the last US presidental election, looking at how today's networked platforms can be easily co-opted by small groups to reach large audiences and ...more
Jan 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Building on her own experiences from the Zapatistas to Gezi Square in Istanbul, interactions with activists across movements from Occupy to Tahrir and BlackLivesMatter, Tufekci draws interesting lessons on the differences between movements in the digital era compared with prior ones. She argues that digital connectivity reshapes how movements connect, organise and evolve over their lifespans and explains how the affordances of technology change their trajectories and their capacities; how ...more
Apr 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Zeynep came to Baltimore to do a panel discussion on the intersection of technology and democracy, so I had to go. She's always had interesting columns and ideas about how technology is affecting our society. She was impressive enough that I knew I had to dig deeper and read her book.

Her insights into how protests start, how they proceed, and the factors that contribute to their success or failure were really enlightening. It's obvious that she's a pro, which was great because there was a
Sarah Clement
Aug 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is certainly an essential reader for the modern activist. Everyone seems to have a theory about the effects of social media on society, spawning terms like slacktivism and prompting scathing critiques from just about everyone. This book puts those armchair theories to the test in a way, taking a balanced look at the good, the bad, and the uncertain impacts of the Internet and social networking sites on social movements. It combines narrative with academic discourse and theory to create a ...more
Nov 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Basically I would recommend this book to everyone I know. In a nutshell, it’s about the relationship between collective social movements & the digitally networked sphere (aka the internet): how the internet provides novel affordances to movements & changes its inherent capabilities. There’s a chapter I particularly like about how the “power” (goverments, industries, etc) had also shifted their tactics to counter these movements, from plain censorship to creating confusion via information ...more
Sep 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Really solid, with a the first few chapters crackling with a startling, vivid recollection of on the ground protest experiences. Her analysis of our connected world is spot on, though the book meandered a bit over the second half. I'm not sure how many new things someone neck deep in the tech/digital platform/adtech scene will learn, and I don't know how interesting it's going to be for those who aren't. Still, it's an important topic; thank God someone as smart and brave as Tufekci is covering ...more
Daniel Dao
Jun 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Probably one of the best books on modern day activism from a social media perspective. Anybody who’s a technologist and has the time should try their best to read this.
John Jr.
For the better part of a decade, we’ve been watching protest movements arise around the world and wondering what role was played by Twitter, Facebook, and the like. Did Facebook bring down the Egyptian government in 2011? How did the Tea Party movement in the United States elect sympathetic legislators while the Occupy Wall Street movement did not? Did Chinese government censorship of online platforms thwart the democracy activists in Hong Kong in 2014? Was it their methods or the activists ...more
Nick Klagge
Apr 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. For me, as an interested non-specialist, Tufekci's writing style strikes the perfect balance between academically precise and popularly accessible. When she coins a phrase, it is not just to put a memorable name into the reader's head, but really to crystallize a subtle concept. (For example, "network internalities," the way that having to work through organizational and administrative problems strengthens the capabilities of a movement.) Several of the concepts she ...more
Sean Cox-marcellin
I really enjoy Tufekci's writing, usually in shorter-form articles around the internet. This is a great book about social movements, social media, and censorship. Dr. Tufekci's years experience talking with protesters from Chiapas to Tahrir Square and Gezi Park informs her deep analysis of the nature of social movements and the "public sphere" in a world with nearly-ubiquitous internet. She discusses the challenges of ad-hoc, horizontally-structured movements.

Perhaps the most thought-provoking
Mar 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was deeper than I expected it to be. I expected a book about the current social media tools and how they have failed us. Instead, the first third of this book is about the Occupy movement and how it was similar to the occupation of Tahrir Square in Egypt and the Gezi Park protests in Turkey. Though I superficially read about these things, this book followed the people who were involved in those movements much more closely.

The second third of the book was about the social media tools and
Feb 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My initial impression of this book, especially the first third or so, was that it was a good overview and intro to the landscape but that I wished it had a little bit more depth to its analysis. The further along I got, though, and the more I thought about it, the more I’m convinced that this is essential reading for anyone who works with and appreciates the power of information, be they activists, technologists, or journalists. Tufekci is characteristically sharp while remaining totally ...more
Oct 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
While somewhat longer than it needed to be, the book nevertheless provides insight that applies to the recent protests in Romania, even though those are never actually mentioned in the book.

As the author says at one point, it can be shocking to learn how your own experiences fit into a much broader context that spans decades and multiple continents.
Ye Lin Kyaw
May 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What immediately comes to mind is the time of Saffron Revolution in 2007 to modern day Facebook for hate speech fueling in Myanmar. Technology is undeniably contributing the changes of my country as well as the Arab Spring.
Jan 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Important sociological exploration of social movements in the digital age, with solid conceptual apparatus. At the same time, an easy read with a lot of examples and scholarly sources for those who want to dig deeper.
Nov 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Interesting and important book. Social media BOTH enables and threatens protest and social change. Readable, lots of excellent and vivid examples, and at long last, an embrace of complexity rather than simplistic accounts that depict social media as either the savior or the villain.
Mar 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The best book I have read on activism, social media, and censorship. Anyone on social media, especially in a journalistic or activist sense, should read this.
Jacob Heiner
Mar 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Read on the recommendation of Anna. This is very different than what I typicallly read, and I am glad to have read it. I am intending on working in the technology industry and so I have a reasonable background in the impact of technology and ethical questions therein. However, I had never considered the impact technology and networking would have on protests. The book was well thought out, it had very good points, and illuminating examples. I was also impressed that the book did not feel ...more
Jan 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
With the caveat that I know nothing of protests except what I glean from the news media (and from that I've been a long-time skeptic), I thought this was an interesting analysis of "networked" protest and the advantages and disadvantages of organizing online. I think Tufekci's framework of signals and capacities seems useful, particularly in her comparisons of mid-20th century civil rights protests and the networked protests of the last decade.

I think my only problem is her self-avowed intent
Sep 15, 2018 rated it liked it
She illuminates how social movements have changed in the last thirty years due to the internet, hitting topics like social media, its early effects, and the tactics that activists and governments use to push their side. However, she interjects a personal touch a bit too often, sounding more like "I was there, I knew this person, I knew this was happening before anyone else" that got a bit old. The concepts that she illustrates concerning "signaling significant capacity", the weaknesses of ...more
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“We no longer live in a mass-media world with a few centralized choke points with just a few editors in charge, operated by commercial entities and governments. There is a new, radically different mode of information and attention flow: the chaotic world of the digitally networked public sphere (or spheres) where ordinary citizens or activists can generate ideas, document and spread news of events, and respond to mass media. This new sphere, too, has choke points and centralization, but different ones than the past. The networked public sphere has emerged so forcefully and so rapidly that it is easy to forget how new it is. Facebook was started in 2004 and Twitter in 2006. The first iPhone, ushering in the era of the smart, networked phone, was introduced in 2007. The wide extent of digital connectivity might blind us to the power of this transformation. It should not. These dynamics are significant social mechanisms, especially for social movements, since they change the operation of a key resource: attention… Attention is oxygen for movements. Without it, they cannot catch fire.” 3 likes
“As people chat with me and learn that I have studied movements elsewhere, one question keeps coming up: “How do you think this will end?” I say that I do not know. In the mountains of Chiapas, I learned a Zapatista saying: “Preguntando caminamos.” It means “we walk while asking questions.” 2 likes
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