Too many cyberwarriors?
The case of Loyalist Peaceful Protest Updater
in Digital contention in a divided society
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Chapter 2 focuses specifically on the role of social media in the flag protests between December 2012 and March 2013. Speaking at an event on social media and Northern Irish politics held at the University of Ulster in December 2013, loyalist activist Jamie Bryson would claim that social media “hadn’t helped us [the flag protesters] in the slightest”. This chapter empirically investigates this claim by providing the first qualitative study of Loyalist Peaceful Protest Updater (LPPU). This public Facebook page was used by loyalists to coordinate the protests and was suspended in January 2013 after an emergency injunction filed on behalf of an unidentified Catholic man who had been threatened on the page. The results of a thematic analysis of 24,244 comments posted on LPPU and its backup page during January 2013 are presented in order to assess the type of mobilising information provided on the page, and whether there was much evidence of ‘trolling’ by critics of the protests. The chapter contextualises these results through a content analysis of coverage of the flag protests in the three most widely read newspapers in the region, the Belfast Telegraph, the Irish News, and the News Letter between 3rd December 2012 and 28 February 2013 (N=347).

Digital contention in a divided society

Social media, parades and protests in Northern Ireland

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