Social Media + Society

Amplifying Counter-Public Spheres on Social Media: News Sharing of Alternative Versus Traditional Media After the 2019 Chilean Uprising


Juan Pablo Luna

Sergio Toro, Sebastián Valenzuela


While much research exists on the role of digital media use in protest movements, few studies compare the long-term impact of protests on online use of alternative and mainstream digital media. This holds particularly true in countries of the global south. Our study addresses this knowledge gap by examining the massive demonstrations that occurred in Chile on 18 October 2019. Based on data from 1,221,487 Facebook posts from 31 media outlets collected 10 months before and after the protests, we detected significant discontinuities in users’ interactions with news content. Whereas both media types display different baseline levels, for alternative media, the time series reflects a “step” type of shock—a long-lasting increase in news sharing—whereas for mainstream media, it is a “pulse” type of shock—a burst of interactions that quickly returned to pre-existing levels. These results suggest that social media users relied on alternative news media to amplify counter-public spheres in Chile.