Mapping Cross-Platform Mobilization: Geographies of Online Activism


This case study offers an insight into a research project that used social media data to map geographies of online activism. When mobilization unfolds across multiple physical spaces and digital platforms, it can be simultaneously local, national, and international. This study presents a theoretically grounded, yet accessible and detailed guide to mapping connections between users and nation-states with a focus on content, language(s), and actors that constitute the mobilization ecosystem online. The method used in this project—issue mapping—draws on a combination of content analysis and network analysis and does not require prior coding experience. Analyzing a dataset that documents transnational mobilization among Ukrainians in Canada surrounding the Russian-Ukrainian war over a 4-year period, I walk the reader through the process of identifying patterns of hyperlinking behavior among those online communities. Having collected and categorized hyperlinks shared across five online groups, I generate a series of network-based visualizations to understand how nations and identities are shaped, represented, and mobilized online. This case study contributes to the literature on ethical and practical dimensions of network mapping in computational social science and would be of interest to those studying social movements, migration and diasporas, influence operations, and disinformation campaigns, among others.

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