Big Technology

Discussing the Future of Social Media-Driven Protests With Zeynep Tufekci

‘Of course it’s performative, but you know what? It’s a better world if brands feel they have to be performative’

Alex Kantrowitz
Published in
29 min readAug 24, 2020
Zeynep Tufekci
Photo illustration, image courtesy of Zeynep Tufekci.

OneZero is partnering with Big Technology, a newsletter and podcast by Alex Kantrowitz, to bring readers exclusive access to interviews with notable figures in and around the tech industry.

This week, Kantrowitz sits down with writer and researcher Zeynep Tufekci to discuss the evolution of social media-driven movements, from Gezi Park in Istanbul to Black Lives Matter today. This writeup of their discussion has been edited for length and clarity.

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In 2013, writer and researcher Zeynep Tufekci and I showed up to Gezi Park in Istanbul, Turkey. The park was a site of a social media-driven networked protest, where people from all walks of Turkish life came out to protest overreaches by the Turkish government. We were at the protest separately, but both interested in seeing it up close as movements of its nature took off across the globe.

Occupy Wall Street, the Arab Spring, Gezi Park, and today’s massive Black Lives Matter protests all use social media as a common fuel. And by thinking about the role social media plays in these movements, we can get a sense of where the current one is heading.

On Gezi Park, and Social Media-Fueled Protest

Alex Kantrowitz: I think we can learn a lot about the place our country is in today by studying what happened in Gezi Park, which I think is emblematic of some of the networked social protests we’ve seen over the past decade or so, starting with the Arab Spring, moving into the Black Lives Matter movement. It would be great to trace their evolution and hear your perspective of what happened in Gezi Park, and what it says about the way that protest happens today.

Zeynep Tufekci: For me, of course, it was a turning point in my analysis. As you said, I already had been working on understanding the social media…



Alex Kantrowitz

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