Social Movements, Media, University


South African students across numerous university campuses joined together in the second half of 2015 to protest the rising cost of higher education. In addition to on-campus protesting, activists utilized Twitter to mobilize and communicate with each other, and, as the protests drew national attention, the hashtag #FeesMustFall began trending on Twitter. Then, what began as a localized movement against tuition increases became a global issue when a court interdict was granted by a South African court against the use of the #FeesMustFall hashtag. This paper traces that global spread of the #FeesMustFall hashtag on Twitter as a response to the extraordinary attempt to limit online free speech. In this paper, we analyze the global flow and geographic spread of the #FeesMustFall hashtag on Twitter. Our evidence supports the argument that the attempt to censor and curtail the protestors’ right to organize and share the hashtag in fact propelled the #FeesMustFall movement onto the international stage.