How Exile Shapes Online Opposition: Evidence from Venezuela

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Speaker: 
  • Alexandra Siegel
alexandra siegel photo

Join the Cyber Policy Center, together with the Program on Democracy and the Internet on Tuesday, January 24th, from Noon–1 PM Pacific, for "How Exile Shapes Online Opposition: Evidence from Venezuela" a discussion with Alexandra Siegel, Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Colorado Boulder and faculty affiliate of NYU’s Center for Social Media and Politics and Stanford's Immigration Policy Lab. The session will moderated by Nate Persily, Co-Director of the CPC and James B. McClatchy Professor of Law at Stanford Law School.

How does exile affect online dissent? We argue that exile not only fragments opposition movements but fundamentally alters how they express opposition by internationalizing their networks and removing them from day-to-day life under the regime. Providing the first large-scale, quantitative study of the effects of exile on online dissent, we show that after exile Venezuelan activists 1) increase discussion of and support for foreign-led solutions to Venezuela's political and economic crisis---including military intervention, sanctions, and diplomacy; 2) decrease discussion of local political dynamics; and 3) express harsher criticisms of the Maduro regime. Our analysis of over 5 million tweets sent by 357 activists over seven years suggests that the internationalization of networks is one mechanism by which exile shapes how activists communicate. After exile, activists increase their interactions with foreign entities and international actors and tweet in English at higher rates. Providing temporally granular individual-level measures of activists' behavior, this work contributes to our understanding of the relationship between exile---one of the most ubiquitous yet understudied forms of repression---and dissent in the digital age.

This session is part of the Winter Seminar Series, a series spanning January through March, hosted at the Cyber Policy Center with the Program on Democracy and the Internet. Sessions are in-person and virtual, with in-person attendance offered to Stanford affiliates only. Lunch is provided for in-person attendance.

In person attendance is available to Stanford affiliates and virtual attendance via zoom is open to the public; registration is required.

ABOUT THE SPEAKER

Alexandra Siegel is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Colorado Boulder, and a faculty affiliate of NYU’s Center for Social Media and Politics and Stanford's Immigration Policy Lab. She received her PhD in Political Science from NYU in 2018. Her research uses social media data, network analysis, and experiments—in addition to more traditional data sources—to study mass and elite political behavior in the Arab World and other comparative contexts. She is a former non-resident fellow at the Brookings Institute, Junior Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and a former CASA Fellow at the American University in Cairo. She holds a Bachelors in International Relations and Arabic from Tufts University.

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