Twitter and #shahbag: why we care

অতিথি লেখক's picture
Submitted by guest_writer on Sun, 10/03/2013 - 3:13am

We may use Facebook or other online social media for sharing our status to friends, to post some pictures of what we are eating or what movies we just watched, but may be it's time we realized the real power of social media to democratize people and technology. While many of us have a computer/cell phone with internet connection, let's think about what we can do with these tools. While we are worried about our country, getting torn inside thinking about what we can do for our fellow countrymen, the least we can do is to share what's happening to use, share it to the rest of the world. And WE CAN DO THIS BY USING TWITTER, Twitter is a social network where we can choose to share our status/picture/links to anyone who 'follows' us. It started as a service to send text message to a group of people, so the status message needs to be the same length as a text message, 140 letters. What we can do using just 140 characters? A lot.

As soon as the Shahbag movement started, we realized the power of blogging, but you cannot always write a big blog post and expect everyone to read the whole post at the same time, but if you have something urgent to tell your friends, you can always send text message, and Twitter is a large-scale text messaging-like service. So why not just tweet about what's going on in shahbag? And how do you expect that other people, who are not your friends, will also get your message? Yes, you need to use the '#' sign before your message topic, so if you want them to get your message on shahbag, you write '#shahbag' in your tweet (the 140 character message), example: 'I am at #shahbag right now, protesting for justice'. Fortunately, we noticed some activity on Twitter at the beginning of the movement. Though not many people were active on Twitter at that time, but they managed to spread the word around the world, especially to other Bangladeshis who are living abroad. Their friends got the message, they forwarded the same message (re-tweeted) to their friends, and that's how the connection grew bigger and bigger to the point it managed to gain attention of the mass media. A US-based organization called TechPresident also noticed the activity regarding the #shahbag hashtag on twitter, interviewed a social network researcher and they published this report on the matter here:

Initially the number of people twitting about #shahbag was few and far between, but as the movement got stronger, we notice that many more people joined the conversation, and started sharing news, articles, historical documents, and pictures regarding the movement. Look at the first image to see the initial tweeters, and the second one to see how the network of people grew in Twitter after two days of the movement.

Oh, and don't think it's only the people who support the movement, in fact, lots of jamaati supporters also started tweeting against the movement. The third image shows several groups in Twitter who are tweeting about #shahbag, but belong to different ideology: the leftmost group are closely connected as they are friends with each other and retweet/reply to each-others tweets, and after reading their tweets, and they are the supporters of jamaat-e-islami. The other large group of people, who are also closely connected, tweet about supporting the movement. In this picture, all the circles are people, the links between them are connections (they are connected if they reply/retweet/become follower of each other). The red circles are people living in Bangladesh, the blue circles are people living in USA, and finally, the purple circles are people living in UK. The number of purple circles is larger in in the jamaat supporting group at the left side of the image.

As the movement proceeded, the nature and content of the tweets also evolved following the current situation in Bangladesh. Let us look at out final image showing the Twitter activities in a line chart. The left side panel shows the popular tags, the right side line chart shows the number of tweets per hour. The table in the bottom-left shows the people tweeting with #shahbag (including both pro-jamaat and pro-shahbag people). After analyzing the tweets during the last 5 days, we see that 1004 people tweeted about #shahbag, and the word #jamaat was the most frequently used tag in those tweets (that's why it's the biggest word in the left side popular tags panel ), after that the word #bangaldesh is used. The most recent, but significant tag was #BDHindus (reflecting the on-going brutal attacks on hindu families). We can also see tags like banjamaat, jamaatterror. A more elaborate analysis can be found here:


রানা মেহের's picture

I opened twitter account as a result of #Shahbag হাসি

আমার মাঝে এক মানবীর ধবল বসবাস
আমার সাথেই সেই মানবীর তুমুল সহবাস

অতিথি লেখক's picture

Can I use your document?? Its nice

guest_writer's picture

Yes, you can use the document. Thanks.

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