HOW A CONNECTIVE ACTION IS DISRUPTED IN RESTRICTIVE CONTEXTS? THE CASE OF DISMANTLING #RAPE ON PERSIAN TWITTER
Keywords:Connective action, Hashtag activism, Iran, Twitter, Social media
Having reduced the cost of political activism, social media has provided room for ordinary citizens to engage in politics, build networks, spread information, and resist oppressive regulation (Howard & Hussain, 2013; Margetts et al., 2016). The ideas of connective action (Bennett & Segerberg, 2012) and hashtag activism (Jackson et al., 2020) are recent endeavors to theorize such transitions. However, the existing literature has overemphasized the positive side of social media platforms, in particular Twitter, in challenging inequalities, as well as in giving voice to marginalized groups (Lindgren, 2019; Wonneberger et al., 2020). While scholars, to a lesser extent, investigated how social media are used to suppress online protest from a normative and more general standpoint (Gunitsky, 2015), the ways that a connective action could be disrupted, e.g., by state actors has not received much scholarly attention yet. This has become particularly important in recent years, as several governments across the globe have adopted new tactics to dismantle connective actions, such as the coordinated dissemination of fake news. This study sheds light on such disruptive processes by investigating how a connective action in the Iranian Twittersphere (revolving around #rape , i.e., Iranian #MeToo) was derailed.