Twitter & Tear Gas - Strengths and Weaknesses of Zeynep Tufekci's Connected Contestation - C&F editions, September 2019 - 340 Pages
Social movements around the world are making massive use of digital technologies. Sociologist Zeynep Tufekci has been following the social movements that have been shaking up the planet for years. She was present in Tahrir Square and in Tunisia during the Arab Spring, in Istanbul for the defence of Gezi Park, in the streets of New York with Occupy and in Hong Kong during the umbrella movement.
She observed the uses of mobile phones and social media and offers us a captivating account of them here. Digital networks make it possible to bear witness and accelerate mobilization. They help movements to focus attention on their demands.
However, the digital public space depends on the monopolies of the web economy. Their algorithms, chosen for economic reasons, can then weaken the echo of protests. Beyond their power to mobilize and react, basing the construction of movements on these technologies weakens organizations when it comes to perpetuating them, when it is necessary to negotiate or change tactical objectives. For their part, the powers that be have learned to use digital media to create confusion, misinformation, diversion, and to demobilize activists, producing resignation, cynicism and feelings of powerlessness.
A situation that shows that social struggles must henceforth integrate information and communication issues into their strategy alongside their specific objectives.
This book will be of interest to those interested in the uses of digital technology, the role of social media in political life and those who study or participate in social movements. In a connected world, activists need to supplement their knowledge of their specific topics to mobilize a political perspective on social media.
Zeynep Tufekci is a professor at the University of North Carolina (USA). Born in Turkey, she started as a computer developer before turning her attention to the humanities and social sciences. She now defines herself as a "techno-sociologist". A regular columnist for The Atlantic and The New York Times, her interventions at TED conferences are widely distributed and show her ability to captivate an audience by raising essential questions about the uses of social media.
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