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tv   Twitter and Tear Gas  CSPAN  July 15, 2017 8:15pm-9:16pm EDT

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base for doing that for us. [inaudible conversations] welcome to tonight's program of we are very pleased and is a contributing opinion writer at "the new york times" as well as the school of information and library science and also of the
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offer of "twitter and tear gas" which is for sale for good you are not familiar we are an organization that speaks to expand opportunities with international policy and commerce. we are recording tonight's event through a c-span and as well as radio so take a moment to silence your cell phones. we have question cards are your seats so write your questions down and given that we will be talked about social meet -- media we invite you to get involved with the conversation.
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however like to introduce our moderator. with an adjunct professor teaching a course on digital activism of. we are delighted to have him here this evening. [applause] >> good evening. is a pleasure to introduce our guest. and as we heard from them that she has been published
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with their interactions of new technology and this new book of "twitter and tear gas" of course, as the assistant professor of library science and also faculty associate for internet and society at harvard. please join me to welcome zeynep tufekci. [applause] so the topic is social media
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and the political mood of is it -- motivation. how did you come to write this book? and then to engage with the movement from turkey. >> yes i actually started as a technology programmer. in the period following the military coup i was a child but that era had very heavy censorship even before with one tv channel mostly american shows i have to
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tell you what makes no sense because about the frontier is the middle of nowhere where i am from there is no middle of nowhere. where are these people? we would watch things like that but what made sense is to show that because there was a major conflict in the part of turkey and all these other things going on with the heavy censorship regime. i was always the kid that was interested and then to
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learn about the atom bomb. so it seems like as oracle technology but then i thought and that i wanted a profession. that would not have ethical implications. >> i started with physics as well. >> so when i started as a programmer one of my early jobs i was very young, still a teenager, to have a project with the mainframe
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but to figure aisle to do with it with that internal internet there is no internet id and turkey. not in the early '90s. that i could just get on the i am internet. so i still have one tv channel with censorship. what is global communication like? but looking as a love those companies could live
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is the girl working your? but to experience that promise it is like that anymore at all. to say this will change everything than the internet came to turkey and i was like sign me up. and i was really interested in censorship and wanted to study a the social side so i studied sociology using my programming skills and i really wanted to come to the united states and i got accepted to grad school and
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started to try to understand how this could change a positive social change so the person that i a contacted i caught the tail end not the beginning but i want to see things for myself. and i will find out how old these people are using the internet to in mexico. then what i feet is happening is happening because there is all this discussion but they did not have electricity so those
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networks that have formed to grab this peasant revolution as a solidarity movement but instead of that story we were hearing it is the first glimpse that this changes everything. so it afforded them say level of protection and that was crushed by a the mexican military but it was at the a new wave of popular accounts portrayed was happening so that got me started thinking
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about all the things of the public sphere of what the i chronicle in the book. >> i cannot -- with that excellent framework so that stevens out if your book. the anti-globalization movement. so what happened is when the arab spring uprising started this is so historic, i went i could study of mind -- of mine but i started to follow the arab spring and then it
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started to rule collapsed with the oppression and what happened but it macomb country it had bid three blocks from where i was born. i jumped on the plane so that is why started to figure out that analytical framework as a case by case story as a tradition of anarchy. so i was explaining that so
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is a country that i know very well that is my city and i saw something that was euphoric with fad occupation read no prior authorization and i thought this doesn't happen in turkey. of course every country has specific things but part of of globalization from below. so there is a framework that enables to do a certain vagueness in certain ways. so that got the faking about the book.
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>> bad is wonderful that you have this technology background.
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>> was organized starting with a facebook post. you know, it went from facebook post to a million people in the streets, a couple months. of course, the organizers did a lot of work. but, and here's the but, there's a misleading sense to this empowerment. it's not that it doesn't empower in some ways. change the conversation, get around censorship, organize a large march, right in technology can really help, social media can really help do this. but to the understand what it, it introduces some weaknesses. let me put it this way, there are weaknesses to doing things this fast. and, i mean, think about climbing mount everest, right? a lot of people want to climb mount everest because it's in their list of things they would like to do, and there's an industry that helps you climb mount everest.
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there are sherpas or the local mount near people -- mountaineer people, and they will carry your stuff for you, your backpack, extra oxygen. because if you're above 8,000 feet, thin air is very dangerous. they will carry oxygen. so it all sounds great. you're empowered to climb mount everest. but the problem is you haven't really had the time to learn. if you've got the sherpas carrying all your stuff, right, and you get above 8,000 feet, and if nothing goes wrong, great. but oxygen tanks malfunction, the weather turns, there's some queuing because so many people are climbing, and you kind of have temperature issues. if you haven't climbed ten mountains before and if you haven't learned how to be a mountaineer and you find yourself above 8,000 feet with the help of sherpas, you're in trouble.
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and, in fact, i started using this metaphor, and right after i started using the metaphor, there were a lot of deaths on everest, and i thought maybe you should stop using this metaphor. but then i thought a lot of my friends are in jail in egypt and elsewhere, so maybe it's an apt metaphor. the problem is when you scale up from 0 to 100 miles, from a facebook post to a big march, women's march, a million people maybe, maybe more, what you don't have, it looks like the kind of street protests in the past, say march on washington 1963. but the march on washington 1963 took ten years to get there, right? so when you march like that, you're not just marching. you built this infrastructure. so if you're in power, you're looking at these people and you're thinking, huh, if they can pull off this march -- because it wasn't easy to pull off, right? if they can pull off this march, the power they built, they can do other things.
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it's like being a real mountaineer. if you can climb k2, you can do other things. it's a capacity you've built over time. if you're using digital technology to scale up really fast, it's a great thing the you recognize it's the very first moment. but if you think it prepared you the same way years and years of building capacity infrastructure prepared you, you're misled x. that's what i find with a lot of movements today, including in the u.s. right now, is that they see in this huge march, and they're thinking, wow, we can pull this off. and, of course, people have worked hard. i watched, i saw how people had put so much work in it. but three months of work will only build so much catty. so much capacity. and what you also don't have when you do this leaderless, big thing, you don't have a means to do collective decision making. you cannot change tactics. you go from the march, what's next?
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there's always a what's next. successful moves go from one thing to another as the time changes. a lot of these sort of networked, leaderless movements, start with a hashtag. have a big march. great. what's next, is the big question. how are you going to decide? you cannot decide this on facebook. you cannot decide this on twitter. because the commercial platforms are not designed for decision making. i mean, facebook has the set up and algorithms, and it's designed to keep you on the site. have you ever thought, whoa, i just spent more time than i thought i would? it's designed to do that for you, right? the whole structure is like that. now, if you're in a meeting, what do you want to happen in you want it to end, right? a meeting -- [laughter] the thing you want most for meetings is for them to conclude whereas the thing facebook is designed for is to keep you there forever. that is not a platform you can just use to make decisions. so a lot of these movements, i feel, sometimes the internet is
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like springs in your feet. you're jumping very high. the problem is you don't have the muscles necessarily to run fast. it's great if jumping is all you're going to do. big marches, we can do that. but the kind of infrastructure building and tactical turns, movements needed in collective decision making, not only does the internet not, like, scaling up very fast with digital technology not allow you to do that easily, it may even hinter you because now everybody's got a twitter account, and everybody's got a facebook account, and you have everybody speaking how to we make collective decisions at scale. now, those are things that i think these movements are really weak at. so it's an interesting combination. i can't it hasn't empowered movements, because it has empowered movements. but in some ways if you didn't have all this tech, you'd have to do things sort of this longer way. and by the time you pulled off
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the march, you'd have had to building that capacity. so that's kind of why the title is this -- >> and that's, that's what this book has, to me, the value is also addressing both the strength and the weakness of those technology-empower bed movements today. but -- empowered movements today. but let's go even further. i have so many questions. for example, we're talking about those instantaneously are leaderless movements. you have them everywhere; america, turkey, middle east, hong kong, taiwan, name it. does technology only empower protesters? >> no. no, no, no. >> it empowers the state? >> it empowers the state in so many ways. so, for example, when i grew up and when i found the internet, i thought, wow, censorship will never really be a thing, right? this is great. we can circumvent the censorship
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blogs. we have these networks. which is not false. even to this day even with all the censorship technologies, circumvention is widely practiced, and people get around censorship. what i didn't anticipate with the early internet which i see today is that if you can't break the link between information and people, what you can do is break the link between information and credibility. you can break the link between information and figuring out what's important. so you basically, the government isn't terribly interested many keeping you from information. it's interested in keeping you from doing certain things. and they can confuse you, flood you with information, use misinformation as a deliberate tactic, use credibility challenges and claims of hoaxes and fraud so that people are confused or distracted or
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misinformed to the point that they don't know what to do. now, this is really empowering for governments, because if you're a social movement, if you want social change, you need to convince people of certain things. whereas if you're a government, you just need to confuse them. if you want to stop change, if everybody's like i don't really know what's true, and somebody says this, and there's 50 things, and there's all these claims, and there's misinformation and fake news, all of that, i don't know what's going on, that's a very effective way to -- >> [inaudible] >> curtail and distract and to curtail the power of social movements. >> right. >> so if anything, like, in many ways the filter failures the information overload that there's so much going on that we couldn't really figure out what's going on, that newspapers have weakened and all those things are, in many ways, disempowering not just movements, they're also, i
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think, strengthening a new form of authoritarianism that can use social media both to listen to the population without letting them have power and also to confuse them and mis-- >> or even misguide them. >> and misdivide them, that's right. -- misguide them, that's right. >> on this note, now coming back to your insight of those kind of new technology doesn't really help, at least so far, the collective capacity of collective decision making, right, etc. but let's observe, think about those movements. we see another thing which is emotion playing a huge role. >> absolutely. >> in those protests. emotion's contentious, it's spread fast, it brings people together, but it's hard to to make decisions -- >> yeah, right. so one of the things that -- so there's a question in, that comes more from the economists and political scientists about why does anybody protest?
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i mean, why don't you just let other people protest, let 'em win, and you get sort of whatever they win, you get a part of it too, right? it's called the free rider question. it sort of animates a lot of these discussions. and my answer is it's a very positive experience. i mean, protesting is, it's joyous. i mean, i'm not -- it's not joyous if there's such severe repression that you're being shot at, so that's not fun anymore. but if you're just, you know, why tear gas is part of the title, if you're just being, say, tear gassed, very annoying, to say the least. the first time you're tear gassed, you think you're going to die -- >> have you been tear gassed? >> oh, yeah. [laughter] i'm a pro at in this point. you think you're going to die because you can't breathe. it's very existential. not being able to breathe, it's why waterboarding is a form of torture. you think it's -- but, of course, you don't, right? unless you have a severe
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condition, it doesn't kill you. tear gas cans shot at you may, but the tear gas yourself, very few such incidents. so you get over it. and then you get really annoyed, and your eyes are hurting. and what you find is all these people who are with you and people will pick you up, they will wash your face, and you just went through all of this together. and that kind of feeling of, like, people you don't know will come make sure you're okay and you're with people who kind of believe in something, you're part of something bigger than yourself, it is a form of -- this is why i think protesters are empowering partly because you find people like that, and you go through somewhat stressful, but it's existentially very rewarding. people protest because it's joyous to protest.
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but as you say, that itself doesn't lend itself without any structure to how do you decide what's next. >> right -- [inaudible] once said i revoke, therefore, we are. >> yes. >> this is this is from me to we. >> absolutely. it's one of the -- i think this is sort of, you find if you read the french revolution, like, the role of emotion you can read, you know, the poems, the role of emotion in sort of the fraternity, sistered hood, all of those things -- sisterhood all of those things in protest and movement, it's a very powerful thing. martin ruther king called -- luther king called it -- >> we all remember it's spectacular and the history and also the issue is here how do you get there, is one thing. also those movement is either over nothing.
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or absolutely everything. everything or nothing. it's hard to negotiate, to be tactical, to be strategic and to compromise. oh, these necessary capacity in a political struggle -- >> right. >> those movement are lacking. please elaborate more. >> let me give an example. this is partly about the movements on the left side of the spectrum. they're very ambivalent about power. no, it's corrupting, you'll be corrupted. all of which is true, right? if you sort of get in your power, it is corrupting and co-opting. on the other hand, if you don't get near power, power can crush you. so it's not like you're saved either way. but what happens is a lot of movements, especially on the left side of the spectrum or even in the u.s. occupy, they're very ambivalent in engaging institutions of power to change them. because they want -- they usually want to sort of create these alternative prefigurations.
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they want to sort of live a part of the future they wish was here, except it doesn't really sustain, right? you can only do so much because the power is encompassing you. i'll give you a different example to explain there are different paths. the tea party movement. it's not studied as much. it's a mistake. it's one of most successful movements in last 20, 30 years. i think if you looked at the united states last 20 years, you would say the gay rights movement and the tea party movement in their own way are probably the two most successful movements. so the tea party movement, too, starts with a protest. it starts as a protest on april 2009 on tax day. and there's a really nice paper looking at -- it's a national protest all over the u.s -- looking at where they were able to hold the protests because the weather was sunny and when they got rained out.
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and it's a perfect natural experiment because rain is random. so when you look at that, the places that were able to hold a protest, years later, they have all these downstream effects. incumbents more likely to retire. a tea party candidate more likely to be elected . you have the same congressperson, they're more likely to vote in accordance with tea party priorities. obviously, they're afraid of being primaried. so you see -- and you don't see the same effect in places that got rained out. it's clearly the protest was one of the coalescing moments for this movement. but here's the difference. after they get together, the tea party prothe testers -- protesters turn into -- two things happened. they did get external funding. we'll talk about that. one of the things in the tea party movement that stands out whenever you study them is they were very much oriented towards
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how do we take power, how do we intervene in legislation. so they were misinformed about this or that. but they were so informed about the political process that the researchers were, like, these people are like political scientists. they know how to you block something, how do you stop, you know, a law from passing, how would you primary someone. they're really good at that part of the thing. and they also got external funding from interested rich donors that were, like, all right. let's build infrastructure. right in is you have these two things -- right? so you have these two things. they primary people they don't like. they pull the whole republican party, because they're afraid of being primaried. they got about 50 people elected to congress, created their caucus. pretty effectively blocked second term of barack obama. and if you look at the tea party research, their base is not like republican paul ryan base.
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they're a lot more like trump this their political views. this is something that's misunderstood, but academic research is pretty clear. there's a direct line from the tea party movement to trump's election if you look at the politics of what the base believed in. so they, arguably, elected a president. so you have a movement that has succeeded by any measure. and the movement was a lot more strategic in some ways and a lot more political, plus it got funded. now, let's look at occupy, and we'll go to the questions. >> yeah. >> occupy, may be more widespread, right? the thing they talked about, inequality, absolutely resonant. did they change the conversation? completely, right? inequality came to be part of conversation. what are the things that movement did not do? did they primary anyone? no. was there congressional people that they elected? did they scare the democrats into sort of adopting some of their things? no. you see them kind of show up by
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the time the 2016 election comes up, they kind of have a candidate with sanders, but by then it's 2016 we're talking. so they didn't have all of those things. also if you want to look at there's this imbalance between the movement capacity building on the left side and the right side. if you look at the koch brothers which people talk about, right? these, they're on the republican side, and they find infrastructure. in 2016 they spent about a billion with a b, right? they spent about a billion dollars on down-ballot races alone. that's infrastructure. that's capacity building. it doesn't matter if you win. you're building the infrastructure. that's a billion. so post-2017 there's this huge movement in the united states that calls itself resistance sometimes. they have big marches. and one of its sort of offshoots is the indivisibles which is sort of trying to organize congressional district by congressional district. it's kind of the equivalent, if
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you will, in the political spectrum of what happened with the tea party. their current funding is $1.6 million, and a million of this is from grassroots. so you literally have two similar movements, and one of them gets together and is, like, how to we change power, how do we get to it. and you see this path from that to presidency. the other one kind of springs up after a surprise election, and it looks very powerful. there's a lot of people in the streets, there's a lot of stuff going on. but if you look at the capacity building, they are not even at 1% of 2006 spending of one donor on the other side of the political spectrum. and at some point -- i'm not saying that money does everything for you, right? they have great grassroots energy, and there's all these people working. so money isn't everything. but capacity building is not something that is independent out of the resources you put into it. so the grassroots energy can to
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a lot, but it also has to be oriented and resourced. so you see what i'm saying? they're both using technology, they're both organizing, they're both using online things but very different trajectories in where things are going. >> so thank you, and we have more questions from the floor. and i'll start the first one. what are some examples you have seen that successfully integrate both traditional and the digital message of campaign organizations -- >> right. >> and what lessons can be taken from them? >> i kind of answeredded, but the thing is if you're in 2017, of course you going to use digital technologies for what they're good for. the point isn't street protest versus on line. there's no magic to anything a movement does besides capacity building. and that capacity can be narrative which is you change
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the conversation, you change the framework. the capacity can be disruptive. civil disto bead yeps, you refuse to go -- disobedience, you refuse to go along. or the capacity building in engaging electoral or institutional settings. so those are the three big pillars of what successful movements do. and you don't focus on -- i mean, if you need to hold a march, you do a march. it's good for many things. you want to use facebook groups? great. hike, you can do lots of things -- like, you can do lots of things with that. but you have to sort of not thing of the march as your goal, you have to think as a successful movement, what is the capacity i'm signaling? i think a good example is think if you're in power and you saw this, what would scare you? right? i think that's a very good way. for example, constituents scare congress people. because they think they might be primaried or they might be voted out. they really care about their job. now, phone calls used to scare
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them a lot because it signaled some capacity. now you have all these things that kind of automate it. you just go, put in your zip code, and it automatically connects you. they're not as scared anymore, right, of phone calls. heir like, oh, they just dismiss hem. they're not convinced it's constituents. so here once again the problem isn't doing phone calls is wrong. call your, you know, legislator, by all means. the problem is if something is made easier, it's no longer signaling the same threat. so if you're a movement strategist, you have to think what is the sort of not whether can we hold a march, it is when we do this, what are we telling them what else we can do, right? so it's kind of like if you can climb k2, a really tough mountain, it's kind of a sign you're a good mountaineer. so if i'm going to bet who's climbed mount everest, if somebody's climbed k2, i'm like, you know, that's a lot more likely.
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if you do something that is kind of difficult and goes to whatever the weaknesses of what you're protesting are -- and it depends, you know, be you're trying to change congress, it's congressional district. if you're trying to do something else, it could be something. you have to figure out your movement repertory so you basically build enough capacity to tell person, institution that, you know what? the thing i'm doing has teeth, and you should be afraid of this. and that's when you get social change. people either respond to it or they give in to it or you get new people in with your capacity. >> i would hike to follow a little -- like to follow, to elaborate. because when you say signal and capacity, now i'm thinking we're talking about communication, political communication. and then we sometimes mix everything together in the digital era. we're talking about revolution are, we're talking about the government -- >> yes. >> or not necessarily, we're also talking about changing a policy, making a new law or
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changing a law. or we could even talk about even before that, changing a story or change a conversation, changing people's mind -- >> absolutely. >> these are different levels of political communication. >> absolutely. >> so can you give example of one of those different levels, how does the capacity -- >> sure. sure. so, for example, a lot of times the internet gets dismissed as -- [inaudible] and i don't like the term at all. because digital technology's great for changing the narrative. >> narrative. >> and it's great for changing people's minds. and that's the bedrock of change. if you want to look at, for example, the gar rights movement in the united states -- gay rights movement has been very good at using cultural tools to make a case for itself for equality, right? and there was a trend on facebook a couple years ago, people would change their profile picture to rainbow colors to signal their support
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for marriage equality for gay people. that's a powerful thing because it's not just like a clique. you're also signaling to all your friends this is where you stand. you're making a political statement. and in some cases, like, say tweet manager china, it may just be a clique, but it's a really brave thing. this is about -- there's nothing about using digital tools, sometimes it's not easy, and it's really powerful. the reason i emphasize the weaknesses part is we've heard so much about the empowerment side that we're missing all of this. >> right. >> i'm not a curmudgeon saying don't use them. not at all. they are very empowering. and the other thing is if you want to organize the logistics of a march, for 1963 they had index cards and had sex months to do a lot of -- six months to do a lot of things. right now you have google spread sheets.
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that has, you know, real -- that is a kind of empowerment. it just doesn't come as an -- [inaudible] it comes with side effects -- >> it's probably even more than side effects. >> it's integrated. >> yeah. it's very, very important that you mentioned looking at weakness of technology and power, the political landscape. because it's not just a theoretical, sort of logical discussion. look today's world. >> yeah. >> including this country. yes, we've got empowered by communication and information technology. but, yes, authoritarianism are rising everywhere. >> yes, absolutely. >> how'd that happen? >> yeah. so, basically, i think what happened is a lot of movements that were really -- so let me give a san francisco example since we're in san francisco, right? instagram was a little company that got really big very quickly. it got, i think, like 100
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million users very quickly and only with 11 engineers. you just scale up very fast, right? and you're just 11 engineers. something similar happened to what's app. they had like a dozen people or some very small number. i don't remember exact number. and instagram got snapped up by facebook for a billion, and what's app for about $16 billion. those are large numbers. when you scale up that quickly by, when you scale up that quickly and if you're a start-up, there's venture capitalists or facebook coming to get you. when you scale up that quickly as a movement, what you're actually doing is, yes, you're scaling up, but you're facing your biggest challenge because you just burst onto the scene. there you are as this big thing. with a target painted on you. facebook's not coming to buy you. a government is coming to crush you. right? so a lot of these movements, by
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scaling up so fast, in fact are making themselves both known and very vulnerable at a very early stage. now, there's probably no way around in be, you know, this is the way it is. you have a movement spring up. but part of the thing is that that i try to explain in my book is that understanding this is probably path for a movement to say how do i protect myself against it. because one of their big weaknesses -- this is going the sound like a minor thing, but it's not. one of their big weaknesses is that when they scale up so fast and so quickly and then the government is coming for them, they need to switch tactics pretty quickly because, you know, you did something, and now you're facing either repression or pressure or expectations. since they went from 0 to 100 miles in three months without decision making, the leadership
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that's de facto but that's not elected starts feeling like, they start feeling beseeminged, and they're like deer -- besieged, and they're like deer in headlights. what's next? where do we go? but they haven't been elected as leaders. they're not formal or inform formal leaders. you have these people e emerge as these de facto spokespeople. but if you're somebody in that movement and you don't like what that de facto movement leader is saying, you have no formal way or internal way of challenging them. so you go on twitter and start arguing with them. and this kind of internal tension at the first three months, first year post big march, i have seen this in pretty much ever movement i've studied, is that they get big very quickly, and then there's this sort of pressure on them either repression or what's next.
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you have de facto leaders, turns out they have neither the capacity to say, all right, you do this -- because they're not, nobody's listening to them that much. but they get challenged a lot. and the movement starts splintering into sort of these little bickering pieces, and they start trying to replicate the same thing again and again and again. last i checked, there was, i think, call for a 15 or 20 more marches on my facebook feed, right? i'm not against marches, right? it's fine. but there's a way in which that's reflective not of a considered decision that another march is a good thing, but more like we don't have a way to figure out what else to do, so we're just going to repeat the cycle. and what happens is you do your eighth march, and it's smaller because, you know, at some point it's not the same thing. and also tactics kind of wear out. it doesn't get the same attention, it doesn't have the same thing.
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and if you're a person in power you're thinking, all right, let 'em march, right? they're not in my district. and then, boom, what's going to happen in the case of this country, for example, is that there's a 2008 election as a major turning point, right? is there some strategic thinking that connects this movement to, say, that turning point. so the tactical freeze creates -- and partly because you're doing all this conversation and trying to make decisions on social media. and as i said, it's not suited to it. facebook is a platform that's design to capture your attention and sell it to advertisers. it's there to sort of grab your attention. it's very good for outrage or cuddly things, you know? there's like these things it's good for. it can be full of misinformation at times. it can be great. it can be empowering, but it's not a collective decision making platform. and so the movement, the rest of the trajectory is that tactical
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freeze, repetition of all tactics, internal tensions, and in some cases like in egypt there was a coup and just huge amount of repression. it's plausible they never had a chance, right? given the stakes here. in some other countries, it kind of fizzles out. occupy kind of did. and we'll see what happens in the united states. so that's kind of the -- >> yeah. but regardless, it is a fact, right, that today is most of political movements, social movements appear this way, leaderless -- >> yes. >> so here's a question from the floor. in what way sometimes is a leaderless social movement better than a more structure -- >> oh, absolutely. there are definite, like, these movements aren't leaderless for no reason, right?
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if you went to, say, 1960s and read the port huron statement which was a statement put out by the people who had formed the backbone of the student movement, it sounds like today. people are, they want voice. they want participation. they do not want the membership thing where all your ask is give me money. if you sign up for any movement, you start getting the e-mails for more money. this is not what people are signing up for. they want to change things. and they are afraid, pretty correctly, that if they sort of have a very rigid leadership structure, their voice won't be heard, and they're afraid that the leader will be corrupted, that will be co-opted, in some cases killed, right? it happens to movements. so the leadership has all these genuine issues. and part of the thing we talked about is the reason you want to participate in a movement is to be empowered.
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so when in the midst of the first uprising in january, february of 2011, creator of the facebook page that helped organize that protest in egypt, the january 25, first he was arrested. they didn't know they had him x then they realized it was him. and there's a place in which he gets, like, taken to the palace with another student leader who had organized a lot of things. and there, you can see they're trying the say what would it take for you to the call these people back, right? they don't say it like that. and it's pretty clear there's nothing he can do because he's not the leader, right? a leaderless movement is resilient in many ways. there is no one leader you can can on the and stop the movement. -- co-opt and stop the movement. a leaderless movement can be creative because you have all this energy coming from -- because a lot of times
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innovative tactics, they don't come from the top. they come from the bottom. so challenge here isn't how to we stuff people into old, hierarchical structures. and i try to be clear in the book, like, that's not what i'm saying. the challenge is how do you take this participatory energy, this new model, this more networked, participatory, joyous, expressive thing, but how do you match that with decision making capacity in a new form, right? a form that respects the participatory sensibility so that people aren't feeling like their will is being stolen from them, so that the movement can move from step to step. because if you try to say, all right, we're just going to appoint some leaders, and you're going to listen, people wouldn't do it, right? they're in a movement to be empowered, not to be taken away. so my argument is not at all the leaderless thing is horrible. it is that it has all these
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positive things, and les a reason it exists -- and there's a reason it exists. and even if you didn't like it, it's not going away because there's a very solid cultural/political reason. but the way it's been practiced has meant it's like a three-legged stool, and you've got a couple of -- you've got two really strong ones, let's say, but one of them is missing. so how do you think about that one. >> yeah. also i would add even many of those movements are leaderless, but it doesn't mean they don't have an icon on or spokesperson. >> they do. >> very often you will have some human face doing that kind of work. >> the problem is that person is not necessarily empowered to speak for the movement, but they end up -- >> right. >> so like one i talk about, he was the sort of founder of the page, he found himself in that very position. he found himself as a spokesperson, but people started challenging him so much online that he went off social media for two years. [laughter] that tension was so hard on him.
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if he had been more formally empowered, he'd at least know -- >> yeah, the capacity with those -- [inaudible] >> yeah, yeah. right. >> so here's probably the, we're near to the end question. your two examples, meaning tea party and gay rights of social mobilization movement, are u.s.-based. do you see prospects for success among any movement in authoritarian regimes? if so, why? >> this is an interesting question. authoritarian regimes tend to fall very quickly and out of nowhere because very often they don't have buy-in from the population. like the elections might not be great for everything, but they're good for signaling what people really don't like, and there's some course correction whereas authoritarian regimes tend to get blindsided. so, for example, in 1978 you see
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tons of people saying, iran, stable as a rock, right? and then 1979, boom. that's a very common pattern with authoritarian regime, to sort of fall very quickly. so i don't really -- and it's a fool's game to predict exactly when and which one because the lack of knowledge is true for thing on receiverrer too -- for the observer too. but i'll say one thing. it is plausible to me that especially china is more stable as an authoritarian regime because of social media. now, you might think they're censoring everything: i mean, you wouldn't, but, you know, the ordinary person thinks of the great chinese firewall and thinks it's censoring everything. but as you know, there's a very lively internal social media, and it's hundreds of millions of people. so it's plausible to me that it's a way for them to understand how much discontent
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there is using sentiment analysis, you know, all the things that facebook uses to understand you. they may well be using that to understand. so maybe the one thing that keeps knocking authoritarian regimes down which is being blindside by popular miscontent, this might be a way out for them to sort of figure out exactly how bad things are, and they may become more stable. on the other hand, the amount of censorship they do have to implement, the amount of sort of efforts to contain collective action being organized there tells you that if if it starts, they know it could just sort of crumble quickly. so i'm not going to make a prediction, but i think that's a fascinating aspect of both empowering those in power. and these things can happen, you can empower -- those things are very combustible mixture. >> right. of course i'm from china, and i'm personally interested in
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questions such as, you know, how the technology empowerment transform political structure in those authoritarian regimes. that's why i ask the question, does technology also empower the state? particularly the author tape states? -- authoritarian states? and that's why i'm asking why authoritarianism, as a matter of fact, on the rise -- >> absolutely. >> in the world. >> it's exactly right, right? you have social moves are being empowered, but on the other hand, authoritarianism is clearly on the rise. and i think that's partly because our old ways of ruling and our old institutions are under great fire. newspapers are being defunded, local news is decimated, those are crucial things. but we do not have new institutions yet. we don't have, like, movements don't have any ways of decision making, we don't have new ways of fighting misinformation. >> right.
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>> there's all these sort of transitions where the challengers really haven't figured out building the new things whereas the old methods aren't really working. and as you just said, it does empower the people in power. there's all these tools available to them now. it's a fascinating historic transition. >> yeah. there's also another sort of aspect that in a denialing contact society -- democratic society, at least those more incremental political aims can be achieved such as changing a law, right, or elected a candidate. but in authoritarian regime, very often that's all or nothing, right? all or nothing. it's either revolution or -- >> right. >> yeah, you don't get anywhere. you'll be crushed. then even the technology empowerment movement particularly doesn't have this process of a capacity building over the time -- >> right. because they're -- yeah. >> right.
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in that we may all see those turning points, those tip thing points. but before that, it could be user. could be dozens of years, right? >> the arab spring took everybody by surprise. the iranian revolution took every by surprise, and i think that's just the nature of things, is that you have this thing at this delling candidate balance -- delicate balance. it's going to tip. but it's kind of a fool's game to predict exactly when. but, i mean, when it does, it tends to be a cascade. >> right. the cascade only happens when the environment is ready. but how the environment is ready is, involves economics -- yeah. it's not just about technology itself. >> absolutely. absolutely. >> yeah. so, well, thank you -- >> thank you for a great conversation. >> yeah. [applause] >> thank you. >> and i just want to make sure
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that the book, the books are here, and zeynep can sign them. so, yeah, please look into this wonderful book. >> thank you so much. that was a great conversation. >> thank you. >> thank you. [inaudible conversations] >> booktv recently visited capitol hill to ask members of congress what they're reading this summer. >> well, i just finished a book called the immortal irishman about a man named thomas patrick maher who was a leader of the young ireland movement and was banished and escaped to america, became a general in the civil war and was the first governor of montana. it's an intriguing book and one i would recommend. i just started reading born to run by bruce springsteen, one of my all-time favorite musicians
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and noter ifs. philosophers. someone i've loved for about 40 years now. i'm also in the middle of the fredericksburg campaign, the campaign of mary's heights and the crossing of the river down in fredericksburg, virginia. civil war book. and the last book i intend to read this summer is the new jim crow about criminal justice reform near the united states. >> what sparked your interest in the bruce springsteen story? >> well, i've been a fan since roughly about 1978. and i've, one of my first concerts was the concert thanksgiving eve in 1980, one of the most memorable nights of my life. it brings me back to my cousin, john moran, who was killed on nerve. he and i -- on nerve. he and i played guitar togetherful really learning more
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about his life and what went into shaping and molding that mind that has create such great musical lyrics and music. >> booktv wants to know what you're reading. send us your summer reading list via twitter @booktv or instagram @book underscore tv. or post it to our facebook page, to booktv. booktv on c-span2, television for serious readers. [inaudible conversations] >> if i could have your


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