Contentious politics and social media : a study of the networked publics in the Ayotzinapa twitter protests #PaseDeLista1al43
This study analyzed the networked public that was emergent on Twitter based on analysis of the use of the hashtag #PaseDelista1al43 to protest the disappearance of 43 students in Mexico in 2014. As social media have expanded, practitioners of contentious politics have utilized these media for manifesting their claims and organizing. These #PaseDeLista1al43 Twitter protests are explored as a form of performing contentious politics. To address this phenomenon, this project took a mixed methods approach, combining social network analysis and thematic and content analysis of Twitter data and interviews. A total of 3,616 tweets from five different moments in the first two years of the #PaseDeLista1al43 Twitter protests were collected to examine their content, who their authors are, as well as the relationship between the people in the networked public. Additionally, interviews (N = 14) with participants of the #PaseDeLista1al43 Twitter protests were conducted to delve into protesters’ perspectives on the demonstration. Results help elucidate how Twitter can be used to practice contentious politics and thus constitutes another resource in the repertoire for performing contentious politics. Additionally, this study aligns with other research that has identified Twitter as a place for the formation and expression of counterpublics that seek to challenge hegemonic narratives. Moreover, the analyses in this study strengthen our understanding of processes of networked gatekeeping and networked framing that occur within a networked public on Twitter. Unlike traditional processes of gatekeeping and framing, networked processes are supported by a symbiotic relationship between elite and non-elite Twitter users. Moreover, frames prevalent in the protest not only concerned facts about the case but also denoted efforts of the protesters to position themselves in the story of the Ayotzinapa case.