Protest Movements, Social Media, and the Role of Law Enforcement

Protest Movements, Social Media, and the Role of Law Enforcement

Kanika Panwar, Vikas Kumar Sihag
Copyright: © 2023 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/IJISSC.314590
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From the Iranian green movement (2009) through the London riots (2011) and the recent anti-hijab protests in Iran, protest movements have been accompanied by considerable social media activity globally. Social media users have been involved in the quick production and distribution of audio-visuals online with protest hashtags, rumors, and sometimes fabricated information. The impact of these movements demonstrates that social media can potentially play an important role in organizing large-scale socio-political events, posing a challenge for law enforcement agencies. This research aims to evaluate and analyze the use of social media for mass mobilization throughout significant protest movements from 2010 to 2022, as well as to investigate the use of social media as a tool by LEAs. This exploratory research examines the theoretical and empirical research on the use of social media for mass mobilization, social protests, and the involvement of law enforcement authorities. The discussion has shown that social media does not drive protest movements but offers momentum to them.
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The act of safeguarding, maintaining peace, law and order, and defending citizens from security threats within borders can be termed internal security. Besides the traditional internal security threats, the cyber security challenges and challenges posed by social media are some of the new-fangled threats emerging out of the techno-knowledge revolution all over the world. Social media (SM) posits an emerging challenge when it is used to spread fake news, videos, and false information, creating flash mobs and communal disharmony.

Online Social Media: Based on its evolution, media can be classified as traditional media and new media. Traditional Media is a term often used to refer to communication channels such as books, newspapers, magazines, radio, and television. New Media includes media that rely on computers for redistribution such as online media, emails, digital games, websites, blogs, virtual reality, social media, online newspapers, newsgroups, etc. It offers two-way communication permitting users to get more involved and share comments and content.

Social media or specifically online social media are interactive technologies that assist and augment various forms of expressions by sharing info, thoughts, ideas, and other articulations virtually. It is a set of information technology that enables interaction and networking through virtual online communities (Kapoor et al., 2017).

Kaplan and Haenlein (2010) categorized SM into categories like blogs, social networking websites, collaboration projects, content communities, virtual social worlds, and virtual game worlds. Web usage to encourage social communication and exchange of ideas through Internet 2.0 has evolved into a revolutionary step in the early 21st century. IT revolution provided users with user-friendly spaces where they could create and transmit user-generated content on virtual social networks (Obar & Wildman, 2015).

Web 2.0 and resultant SM have evolved as depicted in figure 1.

Figure 1.

Evolution of Social Media


Social media, with its reach, impact, and potential, is a potent tool to permit its users an unrestricted stream of information, entertainment, and knowledge. It not only impacts different cultures and societies but also plays an essential role in political transformations. The use of SM has changed the face of protests and movements globally by providing cheaper, faster, and more widespread access to users, irrespective of race, region, gender, and nationality.

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