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Protesting in the Digital Age

Social media have made it easier to organize mass protests. Thanks to Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, people with a common cause can instantly fuel each other’s outrage while sharing logistical details. But these modern-day demonstrations often lack the leadership and coalition-building skills that can translate collective grievance into real change.

OXFORD – Elections and referenda are just two ways for people to have a say in how they are governed. Protesting is another, which is why rights of assembly and free speech are protected in most democracies.

And in many democracies nowadays, those rights are being used to the fullest. Climate activists and Brexit-related demonstrations have partly shut down London during the past month, and protesters are already making plans for US President Donald Trump’s state visit to the United Kingdom in June. In France, the Yellow Vests are out in force every Saturday.

Social media have made it easier to organize mass protests. Thanks to Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, people with a common cause can instantly fuel each other’s outrage while sharing logistical details. But these modern-day demonstrations often lack the leadership and coalition-building skills that can translate collective grievance into real change.

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