Online social cohesion reflects real-world group action in Syria during the Arab Spring


In recent years, political activists have taken to social media platforms to rapidly reach broad audiences. Despite the prevalence of micro-blogging in these sociopolitical movements, the degree to which virtual mobilization reflects or drives real-world movements is unclear. Here, we explore the dynamics of real-world events and Twitter social cohesion in Syria during the Arab Spring. Using the nonlinear methods cross-recurrence quantification analysis and windowed cross-recurrence quantification analysis, we investigate if frequency of events of different intensities are coupled with social cohesion found in Syrian tweets. Results indicate that online social cohesion is coupled with the counts of all, positive, and negative events each day but shows a decreased connection to negative events when outwardly directed events (i.e., source events) were considered. We conclude with a discussion of implications and applications of nonlinear methods in political science research.

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