Online Networks and Social Change

Facebook as a construct of social change and collaboration for activists.

Due to the rapid innovation of social media platforms introduced into the twenty-first century as an invention of the recently developed world wide web or commonly referred to as web 2.0, this form of media convergence acts as a technological breakthrough combining outdated sources of media networks with new foundations of media creating a remediation of interesting and pre-existing content and entertainment (Papacharissi, 2011). Papacharissi (2011; Guidry et al, 2014) state these online social media networks provide its subscribers with a vast range of possibilities to immerse themselves in functions of interactivity and participation with other online users, this accounts for over 6.7 hours of social media weekly (Song, 2015). Facebook has been a frontier for these ground-breaking networking sites as Papacharissi (2011) perpetuates that the attraction of these social media sites is due to the facilitation of the online web persona that Facebook encourages such as implementation of content sharing (both images and videos) attaching and establishing customized tags and comments onto other subscriber’s profiles which further encourages its subscribers to inaugurate together and customize towards similar interests. Song (2015) explains that numerous functions of Facebook include developing an identity that enables the stimulation of personal opinions, new foundation of old and new existing relationships as Facebook as a social networking sites further accounts for rapid growth for social media as an excellent source of collaboration and marketing as subscribers are influenced to act on pre-existing knowledge, their behaviour and attitudes towards a certain event or situation as the online social networking sites provides peer-to-peer, interpersonal and corporation communication (Guidry et al., 2014; Papacharissi, 2011; Song, 2015). Therefore, Facebook is pivotal for the innovation of online social networking platforms as the limitless functions of these platforms contribute to the construction of social change, a mechanism of collaboration and a tool for broadcasting.

Yannopoulou et al (2019) states that emergence of social right movements can be explained as large amounts of individuals with similar contrasting opinions and interesting collaborating together and integrating together in order to form a revolution or movement against unjust social servants, and false accusations of knowledge and passing them of as the only truth, this social identity is critical in modern society for justice to occur as majority of the population have access to the one or more social media platforms and the many functions it provides it users (Song, 2015). This construction of a web profile as one of the many abilities enables the establishment of communities with similar opinions and interests on these many platforms to unite and connect, these applications also account to the encouragement of personal content such as images, videos and personal opinionative posts (Piller et al, 2012; Song, 2011). Guidry et al (2014) introduces the of situational theory of publics which is described as influential and persuasive communication technique that ultimately has the reach to influence behavioural change in society which further develops into active levels of information seeking that demonstrate that if consumers are intrigued or fascinated, they will extend in effort and research to discover information which is otherwise known as problem recognition (Guidry et al, 2014). Problem recognition is defined by researchers (Guidry et al, 2014) as the initial received moment an individual recognises there is a dire need for an issue to be resolved, this issue is exemplified as it encourages a public sphere of communication in which the social dynamics are moral and just (Reuben-Shemia, 2017). Researchers explain that an increased means of communication between larges audiences and anonymous groups result in a likelihood of greater support in consumer behavioural change and advertisement as views have alternated to perceiving social change as the morally right construct (Guidry et al, 2014), actions that have resulted due to social change are invoking protests, ethical boycotts and attending mass activist movements (Yannopoulou et al, 2014). Promotion of political movements is crucial as these social platforms such as Facebook provide a healthy and appropriate approach that construes the activism as a legitimate, desirable and educated source of participation (Reuben-Shemia, 2017; Graham & Meikle, 2018).

Co-creation and collaboration are an ongoing and active process that incorporates the features of online and social implementations where the main objective is to utilize the audience’s needs, wants and expectations of the new media applications or updates within the online networking application (Piller et al, 2012).  Song (2015) demonstrates that social media applications such as Facebook expedite these features onto this network, such features of comment-tag to encourage the promotion of conversation/topics whilst sponsoring direct communication between individuals and organizations and allowing users the ability to archive posts and messages for later review as interactivity incorporates the ability to construct and develop an online web persona that utilizes the rapid innovation of the mass communication over the social platforms (Papacharissi, 2011; Guidry et al, 2014). Guidry et al, (2014) states that Facebook provides an excellent opportunity to heighten levels of interpersonal communication which has been proven as the most successful technique of communication between platforms when influencing moral behaviour and attitudes, these valuable relationships enable users within these platforms to locate other users with similar interests (Piller et al, 2012). It is common for organization to have ties with various groups of stakeholders who are characterized into groups of demographics and issues so organizations and movements can outline which strategic techniques aid in engagement and interactivity (Guidry et al., 2014), among these demographics is the key factor of behaviour and collaboration. Researchers Guidry et al (2014) explain that high levels of collaboration applied to media at its maximum capacity includes participation of commenting, engaging and sharing posts that is defined as information seeking which is the act of individuals processing and actively seeking information regarding an issue/situation or movement occurring within society (Guidry et al., 2014). By raising the level of interest and recognition of an event, it creates a collaborative environment where vocal advocacy is present to help administer social change from a private screen to a large global area attributing to large scale of volunteering, advocating and campaigning (Guidry et al.,2014), this collaborative environment presented the diverse opportunity of shifting power to those in oppression in order to overcome a political injustice, an example of collaboration that inspired social change is the case of the Greece Indignant Citizens also referred to as the IC (Reuben-Shemia, 2017; Song, 2015). The online movement was founded in the early 2010s on a Facebook page after the page received more than 100,000 followers in its initial day of launch about an individual publicly declared his concerns and opinions about the Greek government and its inability to handle the economic downfall, the IC further gathered other likeminded individuals, and anonymous support audiences to surmount the government’s weak advertising and consumption initiatives (Yannopoulou et al, 2019). This evolved into a two-way symmetrical communication where both parties are collaborating and communicating on the interest of their wants, needs and amenities (Yannopoulou et al, 2019; Guidry et al, 2014). This initiative implements that activism is a reoccurring and successful tool employed in society to resolve unethical wrong doings as it is of interest by individuals with a strong sense of moral dignity and the whole of the community as collaboration is acting as the leading foundation of activism and social change (Yannoloulou et al.,2019).

Online network content is construed as information that is distributed between various different users regarding the context of advice, marketing, education, resources and relationships online (Papacharissi, 2011). Guidry et al (2014) demonstrates that online networks especially Facebook when targeted to a large audience exemplifies the amount of response and audience reach regarding individuals and organizations whilst embellishing the level of competition at a global stance (Piller et al., 2012). The use of the Facebook as a mechanism of broadcasting, provides the limitless opportunities of presenting and promoting social change in numerous ways, one of the many ways broadcasting is used by activists is the ongoing act of altering the power dynamic and hierarchy of those in positions to those in desperate need of help or information (Reuben-Shemia, 2017; Song, 2015). Papacharissi (2011) demonstrates that the use of the remediation of both traditional and advanced news convergence on Facebook educates users on events happening on a global, national and local scale as researchers define mass communication as an essential interpretation which is advertised or broadcasted from a large platform such as Facebook which is later reciprocated by individual and anonymous audiences where the original message is evolved and expanded (Papacharissi, 2011). The innovation of this mechanism in online networks such as Facebook was adopted as the online network media saw a lack of immediacy and credibility regarding news on social media sites, this technique is renowned by users and researchers through the platform as posts regarding global events are able to be accessed on demand as large percentages of the global population are readily able to analyze the text and establish a distinguish an opinion on personal interests, different political manners and issues are apparent in current society (Papacharissi, 2011; Yannopoulou et al, 2019; Piller et al, 2012). Credibility is a crucial aspect in regards of broadcasting as national news is trusted by its audiences to be accurate and reliable with its sources of information and updates of important societal events and movements, users are able to access different posts and pursue further material regarding a certain topic (Papacharissi, 2011), this credibility provides civil right movements as source of diminishing the civil injustices as the media provides an accurate and appropriate representation of the lack of power in play within the organisation whilst educating large audiences/followers on the actions that arose to inspire these movements to occur thus enlarging further discussion to occur on a global scale (Reuben-Shemia, 2017; Song, 2015).

Whereas Graham and Meikle (2018) explains that online social networking sites promote and encourage the revolution of the current wrong doings in society and on these platforms, they also provide an unsafe and turbulent environment for the organizations and individuals who prioritize their lives around these platforms. Due to the limitation of boundaries and restrictions set on Facebook, dominant and anonymous users are able to segregate and enable specific roles placed on themselves or groups of similar interests that view themselves as the only and correct opinion (Papacharissi, 2011). Social media use and participation is regarded by Papacharissi (2011) as an isolating online activity as users find the addiction to the stimulation which becomes damaging towards a subscriber’s mental, physical and phycological health as participants have resulted in lower status of well-being and social interaction offline and online (Song, 2015). This isolation can create a need for stimulation which users may find in cult-like movements, these movements provide a sense of belonging, employing a sense of communities instead of the violence and chaos that are associated with these groups (Reuben-Shemia, 2017; Song, 2015). The use of this friendly and welcoming movement creates a false sense of community utilizing and idolizes the ideologies of the implements of a cult which in reality are harsh and immoral (Graham & Meikle, 2018; Papacharissi, 2011). Therefore speaking, online networks can create an adverse reaction and spark negative connotations such as hostile variation of social right movements and copycat behaviour whilst promoting incorrect and misleading information in order to gain followers (Papacharissi, 2011).

In summary of what has been mentioned above, Facebook is indeed pivotal for the innovation of online social networking platforms as the limitless functions of these platforms contribute to a construction of social change, a mechanism of collaboration and tool for broadcasting. Facebook since its introduction within the media has established a foreseeable activism tool as users are encouraged to emerge themselves fully into the world of opinions, tags, comments and posts whilst stimulating interesting and inspiring relationships (Papacharissi 2011, Guidry et al, 2014). Social change is equipped to such platforms as the innovation of various social right movements within many individuals experiencing the same unjust scenarios and wanting to remove such hierarchal shifts in order to have a sustainable and morally correct social environment. Collaboration is an active process that incorporates social aspects of the online and offline implements and utilizes these techniques to encourage activists to move forward and gather larger audiences, an excellent example of this collaboration technique is the Greek movement Indignant Citizens who rallied against the Greek government and their attempts at to uplift the markets in economic strife (Piller et al, 2012, Yannopoulou et al, 2019). Lastly, Facebook acts as a tool of broadcast as large amounts of audiences are attracted to the quick and credible updates it receives, educating large source of individual at various times from what is occurring on different local, national and regional scales whilst alerting the public what is happening in such severe movements (Reuben-Shemia, 2017; Song, 2015, Papacharissi et al, 2019). This paper acts as a resource that defines social change as important construct to overrule the injustices occurring in society as social media as its mechanism and informant.


Graham, M. (2018). Looking Back, Looking Ahead; What has changed in social movement media since the internet and social media? In G. Meikle (Ed.), The Routledge Companion To Media And Activism (1st ed.). Routledge.

P.D. Guidry, J., D. Waters, R., & D. Saxton, G. (2014). Moving social marketing beyond personal change to social change. Journal of Social Marketing, 4(3), 240–260. ProQuest.

Piller, F., Vossen, A., & Ihl, C. (2012). From Social Media to Social Product Development: The Impact of Social Media on Co-Creation of Innovation. Die Unternehmung, 66(1), 7–27. ProQuest.

Reuben-Shemia, D. A. (2017). Power and Social Change: The case of the European social justice movement. Social Alternatives, 36(4), 51–59. ProQuest.

SONG, Y. (2015). From Offline Social Networks to Online Social Networks: Changes in Entrepreneurship. Informatica Economica, 20(2), 120–133. ProQuest.

Yannopoulou, N., Liu, M., Bian, X., & Heath, T. (2019). Exploring Social Change through Social Media: the case of the Facebook group Indignant Citizens. International Journal of Consumer Studies, 43(4), 348–357. ProQuest.

Zizi Papacharissi. (2011). A networked self: identity, community, and culture on social network sites (1st ed.). Routledge.

16 thoughts on “Facebook as a construct of social change and collaboration for activists.

  1. Hi Che-Anne,

    This is a fascinating article! I totally agree with you that the increase in online communication technologies has led to a change in consumer behaviour. Public opinion on social media platforms and anonymous discussion groups have become the monitor or investigator of moral constraints for society. Indeed, as you said, the Internet has expanded people’s ability to communicate, create and write together online. But I might think it’s too idealistic to expect information technology to actually improve collaboration efficiency or even fight back against social injustice. I would agree that online social networking sites provide us with unprecedented convenience but also bring challenges that we have never seen before. As you said, some of the negative consequences of the Internet include extreme right-wing collective activities, such as the Qanon trend in the United States. Do you think there is a connection between the Qanon conspiracy theory-based political demonstrations in the US in 2020 and people’s evolved communication and collaboration?

    Kindest Regards,

  2. Hi Che-Anne,

    Very insight paper! It has similar themes to my one which I felt was great to see how others approach my field. Quick question I have is that how do you see Facebook as the future for social activism and protest in regards to privacy concerns? With Facebook really not wanting alias for real names unless it’s a Facebook page, filters and surveillance of anti-government actions in countries that need a dose of protest (Iran and China come to mind for example, as well as Burma recently) as well as security breaches of Facebook as seen here: that can potentially expose activists, is there a future for Facebook and protest for people on the ground in these totalitarian countries?



  3. Hi there!
    Congratulations on a great paper, I enjoyed a read. however, I would like to ask why did you choose FaceBook over another platform, such as Twitter? Twitter can be seen as the platform with strong political views, whereby FaceBook is more typically a family-friendly content sharing of peoples day to day life.
    Here is an interesting text focused on Twitter, a platform I believe many forget about when we talk about political issues and social change:
    In what world does the President of USA tweet?! Why didn’t he update his FaceBook feed?
    Just a thought. Again, well done!

  4. Hi Che-Ann,
    What an insightful piece of writing. Your paper highlights the importance of Facebook in regards to activism and how Facebook is able to deliver the means to connect with an audience and establish social change.
    I find it interesting that you decided to focus on Facebook, as a construct of social change but I also agree that Facebook groups are effective when trying to connect and share information and provide a support system for its users. I agree that Facebook has become one of the most popular and used social media and that Facebook, as a social media platform, is being used for mechanism and informant purposes. I’ve come across a significant amount of informant posts on Facebook and this is sometimes how I get my news so I can see why Facebook would be an effective platform for activists.

    1. Hey Saranya!

      Thank you for reading my conference paper, i hope it was helpful to read!
      Facebook is such a diverse and rich platform in regards to other online social networking sites, it was not until i explored the variety of services it provides. Unknowingly i did not know i helping collaborate media and text whilst creating an online persona for myself, since then i have been aware of the digital footprint i have left for my future self. Activists of the Black Lives Matter revolution have left a long lasting global footprint and social etiquette for other to follow regarding the wrongs and rights of societal movements, since then i have seen a variety of movements in regards to the Black Lives Matter in Australia. As mentioned within my conference paper i mentioned and elaborated how activists have adopted facebook as a mechanism helping other like-minded individuals into joining their regime, do believe that there is any other platforms that have the ability to spark change and collaboration?

  5. Hello Che-Anne,

    Your conference paper raises many important issues regarding the many uses of Facebook and how it pertains to ongoing social change and the growth of activist groups within our society. It is quite alarming how Facebook is being used as the base or meeting point for a vast number of activist groups offering users answers to all of life’s problems if they were to join the group and be amongst like-minded individuals. I’m sure there are many activist groups that have good intentions with strong morals and are a benefit to society but hidden amongst these are a few activist groups that society as a whole could do without. Facebook, as you very well point out, has become such a popular social media platform with so many users on a global basis that it has become an integral tool in instigating social change and updating its users on worldwide current events at a moment’s notice. Faster than any other previous form of media. I agree with your final point Che-Anne that Facebook, as a social media platform, is being used significantly as a ‘mechanism and informant’ to society.
    Thank you Che-Anne for a great paper.


    1. Hey Bernie,

      Thank you for reading my conference paper, i appreciate your advice and compliments!
      In modern society i believe Facebook is such a versatile media platform which is employed by a variety of social media users for a variety of different uses. This versatility is often adopted in positive manner but can often been seen a tool to bully, hack and subject those with opposing opinions into conforming in society. A common issue that is presented on Facebook is hackers often impersonating users in order to gain a response or to advertise false information into society, do you believe Facebook should update their means of privacy in order to prevent this from occurring?

      Thanks Bernie

      1. Hi Che-Anne,

        We have come such a long way in such a short time and there have been a great number of apps and new technologies developed along the way but I believe Facebook has had one of the biggest impacts on a global basis and I agree it has a plethora of positive uses. It is sad that a minority of users choose to use the platform to spread misinformation and attempt to take advantage of those less fortunate or not so tech savvy. If Facebook could find a way to update their privacy measures to root out these troublemakers I believe it would be better for everyone. I do think it will be extremely difficult and up to now Facebook have been reluctant to do too much in the way of censoring users.
        Well done again on a great paper Che-Anne and thanks for the reply.


        1. Hey Bernie,

          Thank you for taking the time to respond, i appreciate your thoughts on the matter. Recently i was reading another peers conference paper and they recommended adopting techniques such as discipline control mechanisms put in play to for those under age regarding certain sensitive, this would be an appropriate response.
          Once again, thank you Bernie

  6. Thanks for your paper! Like many, I use Facebook a lot so this was interesting. What do you think is the most important feature of Facebook that leads to its utility in enacting social change?

    1. Hi Sonia, I hope you don’t mind if I weigh in on your question here? One key feature of Facebook that I believe helps to lead to social change is its events page. Leveraging network connections and using the ‘share’ function enables activists to create digital events for their cause that can contribute to campaign momentum. In my paper, Empowering everyday citizens to enact social change (, I use a case study from a petition creator who used their Facebook page, and network connections, to create an offline event to help support their online petition efforts. As a result, Facebook’s platform was a quick, cheap, and easy way to organise supporters to participate in an offline rally. In this particular case study, the Facebook event page encouraged 100 people to attend the rally.

      Sonia, as a Facebook user, do you find Facebook to be an effective tool for enacting social change? Have you leverage your network connections to rally support for a particular cause or movement? Perhaps you’ve shared a post to raise awareness for a cause or shared a fundraising link, or maybe you’ve even signed an e-petition?

    2. Hey Sonia, thanks the read! i hope it bought along some helpful insights on how Facebook is a powerful app in how it allows and encourages communication, collaboration and mass broadcasting. Much like yourself i am quite the avid Facebook user so hence why i based my assignment on this particular social networking site, i believe the most crucial mechanism on Facebook is the use of the content groups and creations. Without the use of the status being employed onto the social communities there can be a variety of knowledge and communication lost as users will have to explore the network feed to locate the information they were looking for. Whereas Facebook has created the innovation of ‘create an event’ where users of the same like-minded interests are able to collaborate and expand on specific areas of interest, events can be created in vast range of circumstances. Explored within my conference paper above was the use of the Indignant Citizens whom ultimately won against the unjust economy in Greece, without this use such rallies of protests will not be able to form but crumble under the lack of organisation that other apps provide. The events mechanism educates users on the time, place, the duration of the event and the necessary information in regards to what is going to occur. I know that many other Facebook users may be believe Facebook provides other applications that enact social change, do you agree or disagree that in order to overcome unethical regimes an events page is best suitable?
      Many thanks Sonia!

  7. Che-Anne, your analysis on how Facebook delivers to its users a means to connect and share with an audience and enact social change highlights one of the pros of social media and social networking sites. My paper, Empowering everyday citizens to enact social change (, is another example of how everyday citizens are both engaged with digital politics and motivated to leverage their connections across digital networks to enact social change. One common negative of digital activism and social networking sites that is noted by many academics is the emergence of the slacktivist. What are your thoughts on the slacktivist and clicktivism, and how do you think they support or detract from participation, mobilisation and organisation efforts?

    1. Hey Leah, I look forward to reading to your paper after my analysis of slacktivism and clicktivism. I personally regard this category of activism as the lowest level of participation that can occur when amounting to social change in society, similar to clickbait users are often distracted by the use of entertaining media and diction that makes this post appears as attractive and alarming. Once users are able to distinguish the broad details of the crisis at hand they become uninterested and are unable to fully emerge themselves in the world of activism and the many possibilities it provides for the correct wrong doings in society. Activism is an ongoing process that thrives with active and high levels of interest and participation levels, if change was easy everyone would be adopting and implementing activism within their lives. Among social networking sites you come across a lot of clicktivism who exploit people into giving away personal details and currency whereas slacktivism refers to users acknowledging that there is a wrong doing in society and actively ignoring this issues as it may not specifically apply to them or people they know. A technique that was employed within the Black Lives Matter movement was the reoccurring academic posts that incorporated the use of academic resources that categorised this level of participation as a form of racism and social injustice. I believe in order to overcome these issues of clicktivism and slacktivism, users need to emerge themselves fully into the world of others who continually face these hardship and bear the consequences of not participating.

      Secondly, slacktivism and clicktivism detract the level of mobilisation and participation from occurring within an organisation, if everyone was to act anonymous and incorporate low levels of ownership of their actions, there would be no regime in the first place, just a group of individuals standing around waiting for a social movement to start itself. In order for there to be a social movement, there needs to be movement and participation in the first place. I hope this answers your questions Leah!

      1. Hi Che-Anne. Thank you for taking the time to reply to my comment. You raise some very valid points on clicktivism and slacktivism and I’m interested in reading more on this from your POV, could you point me in the direction of your research so that I can learn more on this?

        To add some further thoughts to the conversation, in your examples and in your research of Facebook as a broadcasting tool that can support social change, do you believe that clicktivist activity occurred and how do you think these acts contributed to say the IC campaign?

        Also, there’s a great conversation happening over on my paper which has been stimulated by our fellow students regarding clicktivism and slacktivism efforts. Jeremy Porteous makes a great point regarding digital politics and participation, and Eva Burkhardt similarly extends the conversation. We’d love to have you join in the conversation here:

        And if you’re interested, I found a few articles that argue for the clicktivist being a legitimate actor in a campaign.

        Halupka, M. (2014). Clicktivism: A systematic heuristic. Policy & Internet, 6: 115-132.

        Halupka, M. (2018). The legitimisation of clicktivism. Australian Journal of Political Science, 53:1, 130-141, DOI: 10.1080/10361146.2017.1416586

        1. Hey Leah,
          Thank you very much for replying to my response in regards to ‘slacktivism’ and clickbait material.
          Fantastic question, in regards to the Indignant Citizens, from what i could gather within Yannapoulou’s article regarding activism is that this was a very active movement that occurred within a few days rather than ongoing process where gradually levels of participants begins to decrease resulting in slacktivism occurring. I believe that there was more slacktivism within the IC as clickbait material was not as common within 2010 as it is now and it would be difficult to convince a revolution on fake accounts where a central account was held responsible restricting clickbait to occur. Whereas ‘slacktivism’ could resulted in members of the IC joining into the virtual, online event and acting anonymous within the Facebook platform instead of joining in on the offline world and protesting verbally and vocally as a social rights movement should be!
          Thank you for the invite, i will go have a look! Thanks Leah
          In regards to the research, i will leave the links below this as well as Yannapoulou’s article.

          Cook, D., M, Waugh, B., Adbipanah, M., Hashemi, O., & Rahman, S., A. (2014). Twitter Deception and Influence: Issues of Identity, Slacktivism, and Puppetry. Journal of Information Warfare, 13(1), 58–71. ProQuest.
          Zheng, H.-T., Chen, J.-Y., Yao, X., Sangaiah, A., Jiang, Y., & Zhao, C.-Z. (2018). Clickbait Convolutional Neural Network. Symmetry, 10(5), 138. ProQuest.
          Yannopoulou, N., Liu, M., Bian, X., & Heath, T. (2019). Exploring Social Change through Social Media: the case of the Facebook group Indignant Citizens. International Journal of Consumer Studies, 43(4), 348–357. ProQuest.

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