Year of Graduation


Level of Access

Open Access Thesis

Embargo Period


Department or Program


First Advisor

Krista Van Vleet


“Twitter Revolutions” in Iran, Tunisia, Egypt, and Moldova illustrate social media’s capacity to mobilize citizens in uprooting systems of injustice. As non-democratic regimes, these “Twitter Revolutions” offer insight into how Twitter’s microblogging, hashtags, and global user connections help broker relations between activists hoping to challenge the government. However, this thesis focuses on the democratic regime of the US and how Twitter plays a role in aiding the prison abolition movement in their effort to dismantle carceral networks that inflict racial and political violence on Black, Brown, Indigenous, and People of Color. The thesis outlines how, under the US’ classification as a democracy, the US utilizes infrastructural power to coerce American citizens into accepting carceral networks of violence as essential institutions to maintain civil society. The following sections explain the abolitionist movement’s history of attempting to dismantle the discrete formal and informal institutions of political violence, and includes the complicating development of liberal-progressive reformism that attempts to co-opt the goals of the abolition movement. The thesis focuses on the Twitter hashtag #PrisonAbolition in 2020 to explore how American Twitter users perceive the US carceral state and the prison abolition movement. The research concludes that #PrisonAbolition does not currently possess the capacity to evolve into the social mobilization seen in the “Twitter Revolutions” of non-democratic regimes because the US’ infrastructural power effectively engrained into the minds of Americans that prisons protect civil society. However, the tweets still show a promising development as American Twitter users become more engaged in abolitionist conversations.