, 16 tweets, 10 min read Read on Twitter
1/ NEW WORKING PAPER on #InternetShutdown-s and protest in #India based on thousands of data points from 2016. Bottom line: shutdowns are followed by a clear *increase* in violent protest & have very ambiguous effects on peaceful demonstrations. #KeepItOn papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cf…
2/ India has recorded by far the highest number of shutdowns of any country in the 🌏 - a staggering 134 (per @NetShutdowns) just last year, largely in an attempt to quash protest. What this paper shows is that this kind of repression does not achieve what it sets out to achieve.
3/ I used data from @ACLEDINFO+@icews on 1000s of violent & non-violent events, teasing out categories of organizing parties. AFAIK this is the 1st statistical analysis of large-scale blackouts and offline dissent at this scale, in the country where they happen the most - #India.
4/ My previous report for @theGNI outlined the extraordinary impact of shutdowns on numerous #HumanRights. Other great reports tackle their massive economic impact. But governments are undeterred and the blackouts continue. It's time for a new question. globalnetworkinitiative.org/wp-content/upl…
5/ What kind of impact does severing communication channels through #InternetShutdown-s have for protest? Does it disrupt coordination, change the structure of protest, or lead to tactical shifts? How does lack of freedom of assembly online translate to the offline world?
6/ The key observation = each consecutive day of shutdown produces a surge of riots greater than what we usu. see with each consecutive day of protest. Meanwhile, the chances of shutdowns "succeeding" against nonviolent protest are not statistically different from random chance.
7/ (There also seems to be a connection between BJP's representation in the lower house of the state legislative assembly and propensity toward shutdowns, but this needs much further exploration for 2017-18 + it's the executive that orders shutdowns.)
8/ There are other circumstantial nuggets of evidence that shutdowns don't work. Riots (and peaceful demonstrations!) spiked in #JammuAndKashmir during the shutdown after the death of #BurhanWani - then fell briefly and picked right up again while the shutdown was still in place.
9/ Another interesting finding was that @facebook reach was strongly linked to *non-violent* (and only non-violent) protests, possibly suggesting FB's usefulness as a coordination tool.

(Data from the FB ad platform, which gives a very rough idea of FB penetration.)
10/ Also interesting: when shutdowns and violence by security forces (etc.) occur together (as in #TamilNadu in 2018 and numerous times in Jammu & Kashmir), people seem to be driven BACK into non-violence rather than giving up altogether. Needs a deeper look though.
11/ I also broke the sample down by organizer profile based on descriptions from @ACLEDINFO. Surprisingly, no major differences between what I designated as "organized" protest vs. "leaderless" (or loosely organized) - also needs more insight + verifying classification.
12/ There is clearly a need to refine the methodology. But this paper plants a seed of doubt about the effectiveness of digital repression. Ultimately, if a policy (a) violates an array of #HumanRights, (b) badly damages the economy, and (c) doesn't work... why implement it?
13/ Digital restrictions in #India are important to watch closely given the upcoming #IndiaElections2019. They will, in many ways, be a template for other countries. I would also like to run similar analyses on several shutdown-prone states in Africa (and welcome collab!).
14/ Finally, this article assumes that human beings behave differently when faced w/ a sudden information vacuum. In what ways does people's behavior change? This is a promising future focus with potential applications in other mass disconnection scenarios like #NaturalDisasters.
15/FIN PS One of the great parts of this project was getting 400 @UofA students to help classify thousands of protests based on their descriptions. This technique can be improved, but was a great crowdsourcing exercise that the students found very engaging. Kudos to them! 🙌
16/ Humbled by the response so far! While you are here: in #Chad, digital communication been cut off entirely for more than a year, as per this great @globalvoices summary by Abdoulaye Bah via @EdwardShelley1. #Maalla_Gatetou globalvoices.org/2019/03/08/one…
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