This introductory essay highlights the key findings, methodological tool kit, and production process of this Special Issue. We argue that communication researchers are uniquely positioned to analyze the relationships between social media and political change in careful and nuanced ways, in terms of both causes and consequences. Finally, we offer a working definition of social media, based on the diverse and considered uses of the term by the contributors to the collection. Social media consists of (a) the information infrastructure and tools used to produce and distribute content that has individual value but reflects shared values; (b) the content that takes the digital form of personal messages, news, ideas, that becomes cultural products; and (c) the people, organizations, and industries that produce and consume both the tools and the content.
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