Twitter and Tear Gas
by Zeynep Tufekci
Yale University Press

Remember #OccupyHK and other hashtags that galvanised Hong Kong’s civil disobedience protests of 2014? In this book, activist Zeynep Tufekci analyses that and other 21st-century internet-led movements worldwide, many of which were mobilised as quickly as they were snuffed out, leaving questions about the long-term efficacy of social media in bringing about change. Techno-sociologist Tufekci writes that by 2013, two years after the Arab spring uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa surprised the world, she was already less optimistic about the lasting political impact of digitally driven opposition. When everyone has a voice, decision-making becomes more difficult. Equally, rallies in which participants have been summoned by a hashtag often suffer because of insufficient time to plot follow-up strategies. Tufekci describes her own experiences at protests, including the 2013 Gezi Park demonstrations in Turkey, her country of origin. About Hong Kong’s Occupy stand-off, she says many aspects were familiar, although after the first burst of energy, events took a slower turn than in other protests. She adds: “The Chinese government managed, through tactical patience and deliberate shunning of attention, to diffuse the protest’s energy.” This is a book for the deflated, the energised and anyone interested in grass-roots movements.