Using Social Media to Measure Conflict Dynamics: An Application to the 2008–2009 Gaza Conflict by Thomas Zeitzoff, Department of Politics, New York University, New York, NY, USA
The lack of temporal disaggregation in conflict data has so far presented a strong obstacle to analyzing the short-term dynamics of military conflict. Using a novel data set of hourly dyadic conflict intensity scores drawn from Twitter and other social media sources during the Gaza Conflict (2008–2009), the author attempts to fill a gap in existing studies. The author employs a vector autoregression (VAR) to measure changes in Israel’s and Hamas’s military response dynamics immediately following two important junctures in the conflict: the introduction of Israeli ground troops and the UN Security Council vote. The author finds that both Hamas’s and Israel’s response to provocations by the other side increase (both by about twofold) immediately after the ground invasion, but following the UN Security Council vote, Israel’s response is cut in half, while Hamas’s slightly increases. In addition, the author provides a template for researchers to harness social media to capture the micro-dynamics of conflict.