YouTube, Twitter, and the Occupy movement: Connecting content and circulation practices

Kjerstin Thorson, Kevin Driscoll, Brian Ekdale, Stephanie Edgerly, Liana Gamber Thompson, Andrew Schrock, Lana Swartz, Emily K. Vraga, Chris Wells

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

109 Scopus citations


Videos stored on YouTube served as a valuable set of communicative resources for publics interested in the Occupy movement. This article explores this loosely bound media ecology, focusing on how and what types of video content are shared and circulated across both YouTube and Twitter. Developing a novel data-collection methodology, a population of videos posted to YouTube with Occupy-related metadata or circulated on Twitter alongside Occupy-related keywords during the month of November 2011 was assembled. In addition to harvesting metadata related to view count and video ratings on YouTube and the number of times a video was tweeted, a probability sample of 1100 videos was hand coded, with an emphasis on classifying video genre and type, borrowed sources of content, and production quality. The novelty of the data set and the techniques adapted for analysing it allow one to take an important step beyond cataloging Occupy-related videos to examine whether and how videos are circulated on Twitter. A variety of practices were uncovered that link YouTube and Twitter together, including sharing cell phone footage as eyewitness accounts of protest (and police) activity, digging up news footage or movie clips posted months and sometimes years before the movement began; and the sharing of music videos and other entertainment content in the interest of promoting solidarity or sociability among publics created through shared hashtags. This study demonstrates both the need for, and challenge of, conducting social media research that accommodates data from multiple platforms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)421-451
Number of pages31
JournalInformation Communication and Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 1 2013


  • Occupy
  • social media
  • social movements
  • Twitter
  • video
  • YouTube


Dive into the research topics of 'YouTube, Twitter, and the Occupy movement: Connecting content and circulation practices'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this