Social movements and social media: surveillance and unintended consequences
Ballantyne, Bryan J.
Chatterjee, Anshu N.
Baylouny, Anne Marie
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How does the use of social media by radical and non-radical social movements differ, and what are the implications of externally focused national security anti-terrorist strategies upon domestic reformist movements? This thesis uses a comparative case study to examine the use of social media by ISIS and Black Lives Matter to explore how organizational and political objectives shape social media objectives, social media strategies, and the ways in which movements interact with civil society. Both movements use social media to communicate with governments, populations, and news organizations, but their purposes differ; while one seeks recruits to overthrow or significantly alter existing institutional structures, the other is seeking sympathizers within institutional structures. This thesis also examines U.S. surveillance policy to determine whether or not policy designed for radical groups puts reformist movements at risk. Current policy does not pose a threat to domestic, reformist movements as it did in the past. However, government agencies are consumers of unregulated private sector surveillance services that groups within the domestic population may perceive as repressive or unlawful. The state risks inhibiting social progress and, paradoxically, radicalizing reformist groups through surveillance as it may be perceived as a form of repression.
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