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Does Social Media Influence Conflict? Evidence from the 2012 Gaza Conflict

Journal of Conflict Resolution

Published online on


How does international public support via social media influence conflict dynamics? To answer this question, I construct a unique, extremely disaggregated data set drawn from social media sources to examine the behavior of Israel and Hamas during the 2012 Gaza Conflict. The data set contains conflict actions and international audience behavior at the hourly level for the full 179 hours of the conflict. Notably, I also include popular support for each side from international audiences on social media. I employ a Bayesian structural vector autoregression to measure how Israel’s and Hamas’s actions respond to shifts in international public support. The main finding is that shifts in public support reduce conflict intensity, particularly for Israel. This effect is greater than the effect of the key international actors—United States, Egypt, and United Nations. The results provide an important insight into how information technology is changing the role of international audiences in conflict.