The Role of Social Media in Protest Participation: The Case of Candlelight Vigils in South Korea

Sangwon Lee



This study examines the role of social media and mechanisms through which it can mobilize citizens to participate in protests. Focusing specifically on Facebook as a social media platform, this study uses survey data collected in South Korea during the 2016 candlelight vigils (N = 922). Findings suggest that the frequency of Facebook use was strongly and positively associated with protest activity. Yet, further path analysis reveals no direct effect of Facebook use on protest participation. Instead, Facebook use facilitated purposeful news consumption and political expression on the site, which in turn facilitated protest participation. Despite the prevalence of incidental exposure to news on Facebook, incidental exposure did not breed further political action, such as expressing political opinions on Facebook.


protest, Facebook, purposeful news consumption, incidental news exposure, South Korea

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