May 22, 2022

New Research Article: “Tracking Protests Using Geotagged Flickr Photographs”

The following article was recently published on PLOS One.


Tracking Protests Using Geotagged Flickr Photographs


Merve Alanyali
University of Warwick

Tobias Preis
University of Warwick

Helen Susannah Moat
University of Warwick




Recent years have witnessed waves of protests sweeping across countries and continents, in some cases resulting in political and governmental change. Much media attention has been focused on the increasing usage of social media to coordinate and provide instantly available reports on these protests. Here, we investigate whether it is possible to identify protest outbreaks through quantitative analysis of activity on the photo sharing site Flickr. We analyse 25 million photos uploaded to Flickr in 2013 across 244 countries and regions, and determine for each week in each country and region what proportion of the photographs are tagged with the word “protest” in 34 different languages. We find that higher proportions of “protest”-tagged photographs in a given country and region in a given week correspond to greater numbers of reports of protests in that country and region and week in the newspaper The Guardian. Our findings underline the potential value of photographs uploaded to the Internet as a source of global, cheap and rapidly available measurements of human behaviour in the real world.

Direct to Full Text Article ||| PDF Version (8 pages)

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.