The influence of repressive legislation on the structure of a social media network

Marianne Marcoux*, David Lusseau

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Social media have been widely used to organise citizen movements. In 2012, 75% of university and college students in Quebec, Canada, participated in mass protests against an announced increase in tuition fees. These protests were primarily organised using social media. To reduce public disruption, the government passed a special legislation designed to impede protest organisation. Here., we show that the legislation changed the behaviour of Twitter users but not the overall structure of the microblogging site social network. After the passage of the legislation, the rate of increase in tweets posted per day dropped. In addition, tweet exchanges became more clustered once the legislation was in place. However, the social network kept its scale-free hierarchical structure. This natural experiment shows the power of social media in political mobilization, as well as behavioural flexibility in information flow over a large number of individuals. Copyright (C) EPLA, 201:3

Original languageEnglish
Article number58004
Number of pages5
JournalEurophysics Letters
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2014

Bibliographical note

Q. E. Fletcher and four anonymous reviewers gave constructive comments on the manuscript. DL acknowledges the support of the MASTS pooling initiative (The Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland) in the completion of this study. MASTS is funded by the Scottish Funding Council (grant reference HR09011) and contributing institutions. MM funding was provided by the Fonds de Recherche Nature et Technologie Québec. Thanks also to the University of Aberdeen for the use of the RINH/BioSS Beowulf cluster


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