Facebook, Twitter, and Youth Engagement: A Quasi-experimental Study of Social Media Use and Protest Behavior Using Propensity Score Matching

Sebastián Valenzuela, Arturo Arriagada, Andrés Scherman


This study examines changes in the association between social media use and protest behavior in the context of growing social unrest among the younger population. Using propensity score matching, it analyzes data from a repeated cross-sectional survey taken before, during, and after the 2011 student demonstrations in Chile. The results indicate that both Facebook and Twitter have significant effects on the likelihood of protesting, although these effects vary across time and platforms. These differences are explained in terms of the protest cycle and the strong-tie versus weak-tie network structures that characterize Facebook and Twitter, respectively. Furthermore, the findings highlight the value of studying the time dynamics of the social media–protest relationship.


social media; protest behavior; political participation; social movements; social ties; matching

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