How Exile Shapes Online Opposition: Evidence from Venezuela

How does exile affect online dissent? By internationalizing activists’ networks and removing them from day-to-day life under the regime, we argue that exile fundamentally alters activists’ political opportunities and strategic behavior. We test the effect of exile on activists’ public discourse in the case of Venezuela, through an analysis of over 5 million tweets by 357 activists spanning seven years. Our results suggest that after going into exile activists increasingly emphasize foreign-led interventions to shape their home country politics, focus less on local grievances, and become more harshly critical of the regime. This is partly due to the changes in exiles’ networks: after leaving, activists increase their interactions with foreign actors and tweet more in English. This work contributes to our understanding of the relationship between exile—one of the most ubiquitous yet understudied forms of repression—and dissent in the digital age.

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License CC BY
Type Journal Articles
C-ID POLS 130 - Comparative