The Waves and Tides of Online Protests
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The aim of this visualisation is to answer one of the questions we ask in the OII's Leaders and Followers in Online Activism project, using a subset of the data introduced in "The 'Indignados' a Year Later" visualisation: is the Spanish 'indignados' movement integrated with the global network of Occupy protesters or does protest activity follow different patterns and rhythms in different locations? The bar plots track the volume of Twitter messages that used prominent hashtags in our sample. Each bar plot identifies the date when the maximum number of messages were sent. The vertical axes have different scales, but the comparison reveals different waves of activity centring on May 1 ('Occupy' ) in the United States and May 12-15 ('indignados') in Spain. These separate waves suggest that there is not much interaction between these movements, despite being part of the same global campaign. Language explains part of the split.

The data was collected as a follow up of a previous study by one of the autors on the dynamics of protest recruitment in online networks. We collected Twitter messages that related to the indignados movement using Twitter's public API for the period 30 April to 30 May 2012, which includes the date of the movement's first anniversary (12 May 2012). Our API queries tracked messages using the most prominent hashtags that were used in the 2011 protests, in addition to new hashtags created for the 2012 campaign. The queries also tracked messages containing hashtags that were prominent in the wider Occupy campaign.

This work was done as part of the OII's Leaders and Followers in Online Activism project, funded by Google.


Gonzalez-Bailon, S., Borge-Holthoefer, J., Rivero, A. and Moreno, Y. (2011) The Dynamics of Protest Recruitment Through an Online Network. Scientific Reports 1, 197. DOI: 10.1038/srep00197

Author(s): Dr Sandra Gonzalez-Bailon
Dr Ning Wang
Published: 24 July 2012
License: Creative Commons [CC BY-NC-SA]
Data Source: Twitter
Tools: Adobe Illustrator, R
Tags: activism, protests, occupy, indignados
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