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Short Video Uprising: How #BlackLivesMatter Content on TikTok Challenges the Protest Paradigm

by   Yanru Jiang, et al.

This study uses TikTok (N = 8,173) to examine how short-form video platforms challenge the protest paradigm in the recent Black Lives Matter movement. A computer-mediated visual analysis, computer vision, is employed to identify the presence of four visual frames of protest (riot, confrontation, spectacle, and debate) in multimedia content. Results of descriptive statistics and the t-test indicate that the three delegitimizing frames - riot, confrontation, and spectacle - are rarely found on TikTok, whereas the debate frame, that empowers marginalized communities, dominates the public sphere. However, although the three delegitimizing frames receive lower social media visibility, as measured by views, likes, shares, followers, and durations, legitimizing elements, such as the debate frame, minority identities, and unofficial sources, are not generally favored by TikTok audiences. This study concludes that while short-form video platforms could potentially challenge the protest paradigm on the content creators' side, the audiences' preference as measured by social media visibility might still be moderately associated with the protest paradigm.


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