October 31, 2018

Media and Violence

Persuasion and Coordination

Social Media and Violence


"Echo chambers" alter empirical credibility, messenger credibility

  • what is "True"? what sources are "Fake news?
  • Algorithms direct people toward more resonant frames

Changing salience:

  • network makes certain values seem more relevant to reality

More extreme frames

Social Media and Violence


Ability to organize violence

  • Easier to meet online than in person, build network rapidly

Changing cost of action:

  • Social pressure (within social network) to do violence
  • Supportive voices offsets risk of condemnation

Social Media and Violence

Facebook exposure causes anti-Refugee violence in Germany

  • How big is this effect?
  • What kinds of violence does it affect?
  • How does it work?

Radio in Rwanda and Germany


Radio and coordination


Radio and persuasion

Rwandan Genocide: Background

  • Colonial Origins of Hutu/Tutsi divide
  • Independence created political struggle
  • Civil War in 1980s, Tutsi armed group
  • Breakdown of peace process in 1993-4

Rwandan Genocide: Radio


  • Government-run radio station


Diagnostic frames:

  • Emphasized RPF (Tutsi armed group) atrocities
  • Alleged local Tutsis involved in conspiracy to dominate Hutus
  • Dehumanized Tutsis as "cockroaches"

Prognostic frames:

  • Preemptive violence necessary for "self-defense"

Rwandan Genocide: Question

Did radio endorsement of violence cause violence?

Was it persuasion? Coordination?

Rwandan Genocide: Question

Some intuitions:


Violence perpetrated by individuals could be coordination or persuasion


Violence perpetrated collectively likely coordination

exponential effects suggest coordination rather than persuasion

"Spill-over"/"neighboorhood" effects of radio suggest coordination

Rwandan Genocide: Difficulty

Selection Effects

Radio transmitters built by government…

built in places with disposition toward violence?


Examine Exposure to Radio

  • after accounting for distance from transmitter
  • variation within local districts

Exposure to radio arbitrarily disrupted by local hills/mountains

Elevation and Radio Signal