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We propose that the risk of violence at protests can be estimated as a function of individual moralization and perceived moral convergence. Using data from the 2015 Baltimore protests, we find that not only did the rate of moral rhetoric on social media increase on days with violent protests, but also that the hourly frequency of morally relevant tweets predicted the future rates of arrest during protests, suggesting an association between moralization and protest violence. To understand the structure of this association, we ran a series of controlled behavioral experiments demonstrating that people are more likely to endorse violent protest for a given issue when they moralize the issue; however, this effect is moderated by the degree people believe others share their values. We discuss how online social networks may contribute to inflations of protest violence.
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