Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2019

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


International Affairs

First Advisor

Gregory Young

Second Advisor

Douglas Snyder

Third Advisor

Donna Goldstein


From pamphlets to fax machines, activists have found ways to spread their message regardless of traditional media exposure. Recently, voices left out of the dominant narrative have used social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to organize protests as well as spread information about their movements. Whether it is disenfranchised youth in the Arab world or black communities in the United States facing structural violence, social media has amplified the ability of individual voices to draw attention to the problems facing these marginalized communities. Using the same principle, members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and others acting in solidarity, turned a very localized issue, the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL), into an international controversy in late 2016. Issues facing the indigenous community are left out of traditional media coverage, however through social media, activists brought the DAPL to the attention of the average American. Using this case study, this thesis explores the question: How does social media impact the visibility and efficacy of political movements by indigenous peoples? Using data on the number of Tweets per day discussing the DAPL, Twitter was found to draw attention to on the ground protests, influence mass media like the New York Times and impact government response.