Abstract

In this paper we examine two protests characterized by substantial social media presence and distributed participation frameworks via two core questions: what roles did organizations and individuals play, and how did participants’ social interactions change over the course of the protests? To answer these questions, we analyzed a large Twitter activity dataset for the #YoSoy132 student uprising in Mexico and Brazil’s “bus rebellion.” Results indicate that individuals initially took prominence at the protests but faded in importance as the movements dwindled and organizations took over. Regarding the dynamics and structure of the interactions, we found that key time points with unique social structures often map to exogenous events such as coordinated protests in physical locations. Our results have important consequences for the visibility of such social movements and their ability to attract continued participation by individuals and organizations.