Social Media and Protest Attitudes During Movement Abeyance: A Study of Hong Kong University Students
Much research in the past decade has illustrated the role of social media in protest mobilization and coordination, but few have examined whether and how social media facilitated movement continuity after the end of a protest cycle. This study contributes to knowledge about this research gap by examining levels of social media use and how social media use relates to protest attitudes—persistence, pessimism, and radicalism—among young people during movement abeyance. Analyzing a survey of university students in Hong Kong in March 2019, several months before the onset of the antiextradition bill protests, the findings show that political use of social media related to how young people evaluate the Umbrella Movement, the previous peak of mobilization in the city. Both social media use and evaluation of the Umbrella Movement shaped people’s protest attitudes. Overall, the findings suggest that social media help maintain protest potential even at a time when social mobilization is generally weak.