AAAI Publications, Thirtieth AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence

Font Size: 
Predicting Online Protest Participation of Social Media Users
Suhas Ranganath, Fred Morstatter, Xia Hu, Jiliang Tang, Suhang Wang, Huan Liu

Last modified: 2016-02-21


Social media has emerged to be a popular platform for people to express their viewpoints on political protests like the Arab Spring. Millions of people use social media to communicate and mobilize their viewpoints on protests. Hence, it is a valuable tool for organizing social movements. However, the mechanisms by which protest affects the population is not known, making it difficult to estimate the number of protestors. In this paper, we are inspired by sociological theories of protest participation and propose a framework to predict from the user's past status messages and interactions whether the next post of the user will be a declaration of protest. Drawing concepts from these theories, we model the interplay between the user's status messages and messages interacting with him over time and predict whether the next post of the user will be a declaration of protest. We evaluate the framework using data from the social media platform Twitter on protests during the recent Nigerian elections and demonstrate that it can effectively predict whether the next post of a user is a declaration of protest.


Protests, Brownian Motion, Political Participation

Full Text: PDF