#PSURiot: The Influence of Social Media on the Paterno Riot

Open Access
Shea, Colleen Fitzgerald
Area of Honors:
Security and Risk Analysis
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Andrea H Tapia, Thesis Supervisor
  • Andrea H Tapia, Honors Advisor
  • Prasenjit Mitra, Faculty Reader
  • social media
  • Twitter
  • collective action
  • activism
  • riot
This study explores the role of Twitter in activism, focusing on the riot that occurred in State College, Pennsylvania after Joe Paterno’s termination in 2011. People who both attended the riot as well as people who observed Twitter activity during the time of the riot were interviewed. In addition, relevant tweets from the time of the riot were collected. By examining a more local, isolated instance of activism, this study will expand the current literature on the role of social media in activism. Based on the results of the study, it seems that Twitter played more of a facilitating role in expanding participation of the riot, rather than an inciting role.