Empowering protest through social media
School of Computer and Information Science, Security Research Centre, Edith Cowan University, Perth, Western Australia
Faculty of Computing, Health and Science
School of Computer and Security Science / Security Research Centre (secAU)
Advances in personal communications devices including smartphones, are enabling individuals to establish and form virtual communities in cyberspace. Such platforms now allow users to be in continuous contact, enabling them to receive information in real time, which allows them to act in support of other members of their network. This paper will discuss some of the capabilities afforded by social media to protest groups focused on civil disobedience. Direct action protests are now a common sight at gatherings of world leaders, most notably the meeting of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Seattle in 1999, the G20 meetings in Melbourne in 2006 and Toronto in 2010. Facebook and Twitter are becoming recognised as key mediums from which to drive change, exert influence and strategically and tactically outmaneuver conventional police deployments at protests. Police charged with managing protest activity now need to operate in both the physical and cyber worlds simultaneously.