Social media has changed the level of engagement and participation of the importance of upholding civil rights and equality in people’s mind. It is really encouraging that the technology of the digital world has provoked people’s interest about unfair social issues and people nowadays are highly engaged in enhancing the social environment through online interaction. As the freedom of speech is being emphasized in this generation, the discussion of one of the most concerned social issues regarding civil rights and social equality, has become a normal social phenomenon among the society, in which democracy is what people are really looking for, and it is what people highly value. Therefore, the discussion of this conference paper is “how social media has become a place for people to uphold civil rights and equality”, scholars’ evidence will be used to support this statement. This paper argues about how people engage in the specific social issue across different social media platforms with certain characteristics and features, such as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, and how the protest movement in the future will be affected and organized.
- Keywords: #community #socialmovement #socialmedia #equality #civilright
Social media refers to digital platforms that allow interactions and engagement between users and communities, platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube are the most used platforms among social media users. The way that people engage with one another based on their preference and interests through different platforms forms the online communities for different interest groups. Online communities work in a way that people are connecting with other users digitally. It is undeniable that social media has completely changed the way information flows through different platforms, and dramatically boosted the speed of the flow of information. Social media has the power of generating huge traffic among different online platforms and enables the information to be passed through the word-of-mouth, since the nature of social media includes two-way communication as people have the freedom and right to comment and share their thoughts on basically everything that is posted. The effectiveness and high speed of the flow of information enable people to have access to global news regarding social issues, the Internet allows people to engage in the discussion of the issue through different digital platforms, social networks and social media platforms form a significant part of this engagement.
Social Media & Background of Civil Right and Equality
Social media has become one of the major sources where we are getting the latest news from, since social media allows internet users to share the content to others in a faster and more efficient way, we just have to click the share button, and we are then able to share the messages and the news to more audiences, whether they are interested or not. For example, Instagram is a social media platform that users can post photos and videos along with written content in the form of feed post, story, reels, and IGTV videos, which allows users use this platform as a medium of communication. A study on Google Scholar has indicated that over 70% of people who aged from 12- to 24-year-old are using Instagram and have an account for themselves (Huang & Su, 2018). According to a research conducted by Pew Research Center based in the U.S, and based on different races who use at least one social media platform, 69% of U.S. adults are people with white skin, 77% of the adults are with black skin, and 80% are in other races (Pew Research Center, 2021).
Before we dip into the relationship between social networks and civil rights, as well as equality, it is necessary to look at the background of civil rights and equality first. Civil right movement is a broad term that is used to categorize the activism of upholding and protecting the rights in relation to political, social, and economic, in which this movement was initially started by the argument of pursuing the equal treatment of African American during the late eighteen centuries (Khan Academy, n.d.). The equality in terms of different races, the impact of the built-culture for decades has the most influence on people’s perspectives based on others’ skin colours and the divergence in ethnicity, which has aroused the problem of racism and mistreatment within the field of different skin colours as well as gender role (Banerjee et al., 2020)
How has social media influenced the way people are protesting and fighting for civil rights and equality compared with the past? One of the traits of social media is that it allows certain situations in terms of fairness to become visible, meaning that social media enables us to clearly identify the reality, brutality, and injustices (Ovide, 2020). As these situations in real life become transparent and identifiable, we are able to make changes, and take actions, maximizing the invisible potential of social media in a way that we could build a community with equal treatments.
It is undeniable that the spread of social media usage will never slow down as 86% of the social media users log on to their social media account at least once a day, while 72% of the users use multiple times in a day (Herhold, 2018). Social media platforms are the third place for people to communicate digitally, people are allowed to share their thoughts, perspectives, and attitude towards social issues, in which the freedom of speech enables people to find someone who is fighting for civil rights and is dedicated to build a society with equal status through online platforms. The way people find themselves relatable to the content that they are interested in is because of the way social media works, which is interest-orientated contents (Foundation, 2021).
Researchers have indicated that the level of intensity of the conversation on social media platforms has a close relationship with the participation of protest activities in the future (Choudhury et al., 2016). Social media enable people to organize protest movement through social media platforms that have the “group chat” and “event” features such as Facebook, as long as they have the internet connection and social media accounts, which the power of word-of-mouth can have a significant impact on directing the movement to certain results (Barnett, n.d.).
Black Lives Matter – The Death of George Floyd Went Viral on Social Media
A historical tragedy happened in 2020 that has proven the power of having access to global news is the death of George Floyd, which the case has undeniably become a history in the world, with his life being taken by American police, this had created social movement both on social media, and in real life, with people protesting that every life should be treated equally. The footage of George Floyd being murdered by the police officer had gone viral on various social media platforms, including Instagram, which allowed international feedback and response given that people have access to global news. People on Instagram were using the features of sharing, commenting, and reacting to the information on the platforms. This has shown the effect of the way Instagram works in engaging people in different patterns, as a study conducted in 2015 showed that “96.87% of all engagements were likes while 3.13% were comments”, (Mullane, 2015). Instagram users are able to post about their thoughts in relation to this specific social issue regarding human rights and civil rights, showing their position in protesting the mistreatment of life, people who have the same opinion came together to fight against the unfairness by sharing the relevant posts to their feeds. This movement on Instagram can create huge traffic and form online communities where people are united digitally, the power of united online communities can lead to the results of people actually making changes and taking actions offline.
The tragedy has also brought the social issue named “Black Lives Matter” back to the public light, it was all over the newspaper sites and every social media platform, even though this tragedy originally happened in the United States, people from different countries are able to have access to the latest information and updates of the death of George Floyd and “Black Lives Matter” through social media platforms and digital newspaper sites. In other words, social networking and social media platforms allow the conversations of the “Black Lives Matter” events and protests to be spread and discussed from domestic to global. On the other hand, what is really worth bringing into this conference paper is the use of hashtags on social media such as Instagram and Twitter. Hashtags were being used across different social media platforms to raise the awareness of the social issue, for instance, people were using the hashtag #BlackoutTuesday and #BlackLivesMatter (Mediakix, n.d.). Within the first month since the tragedy, the name of George Floyd was being mentioned on social media platforms, sites, and blogs, for about 1.1 billion times (Beckman, 2020).
How are hashtags useful?
Hashtag refers to the tagging of a specific content in a form of the theme being specified and labelled, it is mostly used on social media platforms such as Instagram and Twitter. An example to illustrate the way hashtags present would be #civilright, #socialjustice, #equality, or as mentioned before, #BlackLivesMatter. Instagram users are able to follow the hashtags of different topics or themes that they are interested in, and wish to get the updates about content that are related to the hashtags they followed. The use of hashtags plays a significant role in the contribution of bringing the public together as it enables users to quickly find the content that is relevant to the preferred topic, as “hashtags for such situations also provide a way for the public to express their sentiment — something many of us feel compelled to do in the case of a disaster”, (Campbell, 2018). The motivation for social media users to include hashtags about the topic that they are discussing beyond the topic itself, the motivation involves a certain level of connection and interest between the users using the same hashtags.
In conclusion, social media has created a networked public and communities on cyberspace in a way that people are not necessary to communicate and interact in person and still able to organize events, bringing the power of unity to combat unfairness in the reality. It is obvious that having access to social media is important in building a world with peace and love, enabling more people to have the courage to fight for equality. Since social media users are able to connect with others based on what they have followed, or what they are interested in due to the nature of social media as it will bring people who have the same interest together. As the freedom of speech is highly valued and emphasized especially in the online environment, people can motivate each other by sharing their experiences, thoughts, and opinion, regardless of different races or skin colours.
Huang, Y.-T., & Su, S.-F. (2018, August 8). Motives for Instagram Use and Topics of Interest among Young Adults. Future Internet. https://www.mdpi.com/1999-5903/10/8/77#cite
Pew Research Center. (2018). Social Media Fact Sheet. https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/fact-sheet/social-media/?menuItem=2fc5fff9-9899-4317-b786-9e0b60934bcf
Khan Academy. (n.d.). Introduction to the Civil Rights Movement. https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/us-history/postwarera/civil-rights-movement/a/introduction-to-the-civil-rights-movement
Banerjee, D., Vijayakumar, H. G., & D’Cruz, M. (2020). ‘Beyond the Floyd Narrative’: Reviewing racism through the lens of social psychiatry. International Journal of Social Psychiatry. https://doi.org/10.1177/0020764020950773
Ovide, S. (2020, June 18). How Social Media Has Changed Civil Rights Protests. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/18/technology/social-media-protests.html
Herhold, K. (2018, October 17). How People Use Social Media in 2018. The Manifest. https://themanifest.com/social-media/how-people-use-social-media-2018
Foundation. (2021, January 7). The Psychology Of Content Sharing Online In 2021 [Research]. https://foundationinc.co/lab/psychology-sharing-content-online/
De Choudhury, M., Jhaver, S., Sugar, B., & Weber, I. (2016). Social Media Participation in an Activist Movement for Racial Equality. Proceedings of the … International AAAI Conference on Weblogs and Social Media. International AAAI Conference on Weblogs and Social Media, 2016, 92–101.
Barnett, K. (n.d.). The impact of social media on modern protest movements and democracy. The Sociable. https://sociable.co/social-media/impact-social-media-modern-protest-movements-democracy/
Mullane, I. (2015, May 29). INSTAGRAM RULES ENGAGEMENT, BUT HOW LONG BEFORE AN ALGORITHM? Locowise. https://locowise.com/blog/instagram-rules-engagement
Mediakix. (n.d.). BLACK LIVES MATTER SOCIAL MEDIA — DIGITAL IMPACT & BEYOND. https://mediakix.com/blog/black-lives-matter-social-media/
Beckman, B. (2020, July 2). #BlackLivesMatter saw tremendous growth on social media. Now what?. Mashable. https://mashable.com/article/black-lives-matter-george-floyd-social-media-data/
Campbell, A. (2018, December 24). What is a Hashtag? And What Do You Do With Hashtags? Small Business Trend. https://smallbiztrends.com/2013/08/what-is-a-hashtag.html
17 thoughts on ““How Social Media Has Become a Place for People to Uphold Civil Rights and Equality””
Thanks for sharing your paper.
You mention in your paper that people are more likely to like and share rather than engage within the comments. Does this mean the movement surrounding civil rights and equality is predicated on the conversation being propelled by only a few strong community voices to drive the narrative then scaled by the social media account holders? Or do these social media campaigns still need the traditional news articles for those members for spreadability?
Well done on your paper.
Hi Joseph, thank you for reading my paper!
As you mentioned, I would say that your concern might be on the emergence of fake news being spread as the correcet information. I do agree with you on this argument as ” the presence of fake news on social media has been among the most heated points of discussion” (Zeng et al., 2017). However, despite not every social media platforms are working on preventing the spread of fake news on the cyberspace, a social media platform in China – Weibo, which is the leading microblogging site in China, are making efforts “to debunk rumor content and even censor the messages” (Zeng et al., 2017). According to Henige (2017), “while some hoaxes can be completely debunked, a greater amount of content, including from mainstream sources, often gets the basic idea right but some details wrong or omitted”.
Zeng, J., Chan, C.‐h. and Fu, K.‐w. (2017), How Social Media Construct “Truth” Around Crisis Events: Weibo’s Rumor Management Strategies After the 2015 Tianjin Blasts. Policy & Internet, 9: 297-320. https://doi-org.dbgw.lis.curtin.edu.au/10.1002/poi3.155
Henige, D. (2017). Truth and its putative simulacra: How the social media define truth and why that should worry us. Journal of Information Ethics, 26(2), 14-17. Retrieved from https://link.library.curtin.edu.au/gw?url=https://www-proquest-com.dbgw.lis.curtin.edu.au/scholarly-journals/truth-putative-simulacra-how-social-media-define/docview/2027533736/se-2?accountid=10382
As someone who participate in various civil right/equality movement through the sharing of content on social media platforms, I really enjoyed reading about the topic you’ve chosen. Social media has indeed transformed into a space for bringing awareness to social issue as you’ve mentioned in your paper, which has been amplified by the spreadability and discoverability of media. Seungahn Nah and Deborah S. Chung explains that citizen journalism can be described as an action towards civil participation, in the form of user-created-content or user-generated-content, (Nah & Chung, 2020). In this instance, individuals are able to share any social injustice they face or come across by posting videos/text on their social media account.
Through the use of #hastangs citizens are able to form a community as they share the same interest. In the ongoing protest in Myanmar, global recognition of the issue (civil disobedience movement) and support was possible as a result of social media tools, utilising #hashtags, comment, share and so on to increase awareness. You highlighted the importance of freedom of speech suggesting that people can comment and share about everything, as well as having access to global news. However, not everyone has the luxury of speaking about social issue and sharing information freely as they wish due to censorship. Online political participation can place users at a disadvantage as Lutz and Hoffmaan (2017, p 877) stated, “In both democratic and autocratic regimes, online participation might render users vulnerable to surveillance and prosecution.” For example, Myanmar’s military has placed a nationwide restriction on internet use and confiscated mobile phones to prevent the sharing of information. Harsh punishment are in place for those who have or continue to participate in the movement. So freedom of speech is not available for everyone, even with access to the internet.
On a final note, at the beginning of your paper you mentioned a research by Pew Research Centre (2020) – about the different race and their social media use, how is that relevant to online civil participation? Are you suggesting that race has an influence on whether people take part in sharing and creating of content?
It would be appreciated if you could also have a read of my paper which falls into a similar topic, but with the focus on online gaming community. https://networkconference.netstudies.org/2021/2021/04/26/social-media-as-a-third-space-for-participation-online-gaming-communities/
Lutz, C., & Hoffmann, C(P). (2017). The dark side of online participation: exploring
non-, passive and negative participation. Information, Communication & Society 20(6), 876-897. https://doi-org.dbgw.lis.curtin.edu.au/10.1080/1369118X.2017.1293129
Nachemson, A. (2021, Mar 4). Why is Myanmar’s military blocking the internet? Aljazeera. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/3/4/myanmar-internet-blackouts
Nah, S., & Chung, C(S). (2020). Understanding Citizen Journalism as Civic Participation (1st ed.). Routledge. https://doi-org.dbgw.lis.curtin.edu.au/10.4324/9781315271286
Walker, T. (2021, Feb 27). How Myanmar’s Civil Disobedience Movement Is Pushing Back Against the Coup. VOANews. https://www.voanews.com/east-asia-pacific/how-myanmars-civil-disobedience-movement-pushing-back-against-coup
Hi Bethani, Thanks for reaching my paper!
First of all, your argument on the situation that Myanmar is encountering is valid, since it is empirical that the Myanmar’s military has blocked the internet access, in which the Myanmar citizens would receive harsh punishment if they continue participating in the protest activities and social movement. However, I believe that the power that the internet is able to generate internationally would transcend the negativity of Myanmar blocking the internet. As the participation in political activities has emerged as the most extensive subfield in terms of the participation concept (Lutz et al., 2014). Other than that, Philip et al (2011) indicated the high usage of social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter while protesters were coodinating the movements and trying to expose the news to the global. It is undeniable that “social media had a clear role in extending the life of civil disobedience” (Philip et al., 2011), since international pressure can be engendered, forcing political changes given the situation in Myanmar.
The different races and their social media use do not have a direct relationship with the online civil participation, but it provided a background of how social media users with different culture background and moral value, are able to form an online community in relation to upholding the civil rights and equality. By mentioning this background, I believe that it can be helpful in strengthening the argument of this paper, since social media platforms provide a thrid place to build unity.
Lutz, C., Hoffmann, C. P., & Meckel, M. (2014). Beyond just politics: A systematic literature review of online participation. First Monday, 19(7). Retrieved from http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/5260/4094 doi: 10.5210/fm.v19i7.5260
Philip N. Howard, Sheetal D. Agarwal & Muzammil M. Hussain (2011) When Do States Disconnect Their Digital Networks? Regime Responses to the Political Uses of Social Media, The Communication Review, 14:3, 216-232. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10714421.2011.597254?scroll=top&needAccess=true
Despite the power which social media platform has in relation to global reach and social change, I disagree that it has the ability to simply transcend pass negativity and censorship. It’s true that these platforms has facilitate the coordination of protest to be held in a number of places across the world, continuing the movement and supporters being able to exercise their freedom of speech which the Burmese has been deprived of (when looking specifically at social media). If tension is high and the content posted is deemed as information which portrays the military officials negatively it’s likely that the dissatisfaction of the community is preferred, in comparison to justice, (Lorentzen, 2013). Therefore, for countries with a deep-rooted censorship policies it cannot be changed due to international (mainly Western) pressure. As they will receive support by other countries that are implicating similar regulations. If an assumption of the situation was to be made it’s likely that access to the internet will again be available to the public, as the nation is able to reap the profits of social media. However, censorship policies will still be maintained by the officials, and continue to restrict users from voicing their political views freely.
Thank you for clarifying the question on how race effects social media participation, I think that if you were to have included that expansion during your paper it would allow readers such as myself to comprehend the meaning behind the statistic provided.
Lorentzen, P. (2013). China’s Strategic Censorship. American Journal of Political Science, 58(2), 402-414. https://doi-org.dbgw.lis.curtin.edu.au/10.1111/ajps.12065
I really liked this paper, and it insightfully outlined many benefits of social media for equality. I am inclined to wonder, however, if these very benefits could be just as harmful as they are useful. For example; couldn’t hate-groups utilise social media and hashtags with just as much ease as pro-justice and anti-racism groups?
Notable cases of racist hate-criminals using social media for their ill-intentions include Pavlo Lapshyn who attempted bombing a West-Midlands mosque three times, Anders Breivik who killed 77 people in a hate-crime in Norway in 2011, and the 2019 shootings of Muslims in a Christchurch mosque – the horrific actions were even live-streamed online to like-minded followers (Williams et al, 2019). Following this tragic event, there was notable surge in hate-crimes or racist action, including swastikas painting around Oxford campus in England. London, alone, saw a significant spike in hate-crimes in the following days after the attack in Christchurch (Williams et al, 2019). Social media, thus, can rallying and radicalise people just as easily as it can rally groups for good. And as you infer, online group activity can prevail into the physical world. It isn’t even just racist groups which benefit, but sexist groups (i.e. incel subculture), xenophobic groups, anti-Semitism and anti-Islam cultures, as well as homophobic groups.
So the question remains; do the positives outweigh the negatives when it comes to rallying group support on social media? What do you think?
Williams, M., Burnap, P., Javid, A., Liu, H., & Ozalp, S. (2019). Hate in the machine: Anti-black and anti-muslim social media posts as predictors of offline racially and religiously aggravated crime. The British Journal Of Criminology, 60(1), 93-117. https://doi.org/10.1093/bjc/azz049
Hi Amelia, thank you for discussing with me! I understand your concern about the negativity of group support on social media that could cause physical harm. However, just like the case in Norway that you mentioned, we could also use social media as a median to organize protest towards this issue, since “social media functioned to broker connections between previously disconnected groups, to spread shared grievances beyond the small community of activist leaders, and to globalize the reach and appeal of the domestic movement for democratic change” (Weigel, 2012).
Weigel, M. (2012, October 15). Global protest, technology and social media: Research roundup. The Journalist’s Resource. https://journalistsresource.org/economics/global-protests-social-media-research-roundup/
A very nice paper, you clearly explain how social media is an important aspect in new and emerging social issues with good use of statistical references. I believe that the events that have lead to the BLM movement were tragic, and have since endorsed a positive social change throughout America and has even spread to Australia to shine light on our own unspoken racial divide.
However, who is not to say asian, indigenous/native, middle eastern or muslim lives matter? There are some populations throughout the world living in unimaginable poverty and war-torn conditions, who do not receive any online recognition through hashtags and post-sharing. An article by linguist Stollznow (2021) states that the phrase “all lives matter” is now synonymous with prejudice and has since become associated with white supremacy and racism. Despite trying to unify all individuals on a global scale, it was seen as phrase to counter that of the BLM movement.
I believe that we cannot create a hashtag for every social issue, and for that many social media users will join in on whatever is trending at the time through sharing a post on their story and never giving it a second thought. If we were, in fact, sharing posts on every global social issue, it would be drowned out by the ever-growing content and would become seamlessly lost rather than prioritised.
Really interesting read. I came across similar articles during research for my own paper. From my perspective each social media outlet has its strengths and weakness for activism and organizing protests as well as creating exposure for these issues.
I use Twitch daily myself and it has the potential to have a massive impact for creating interest, forming groups globally and exposing these civil rights issues for the world to see. Recently Twitch was used for the US election and politicians used the platform of course to promote but also to highlight issues including BLM, and these channels have a global reach. To me social media sites have the ability to inform the world of these issues that might otherwise have been restricted depending on your location
Thanks for the discussion! I’m not a Twitch user but definitely am interested to engage with this platform in the future. I have done some research on Twitch as a livestreaming platform in relation to the social media influencer marketing strategy (Pollack et al., 2021), since I believe that this is highly relevant to the concept of this unit as well as the debating streams. A study indicated that ” a viewer’s emotional connectedness to Twitch was significantly associated with an increased sense of community on the platform, which was also associated with a history of monetary donations to Twitch content creators” (Pollack et al., 2021).
I would like to know your opinion on this article! https://www-proquest-com.dbgw.lis.curtin.edu.au/docview/2518596089?pq-origsite=primo
Pollack, C. C., Gilbert-Diamond, D., Emond, J. A., Eschholz, A., Evans, R. K., Boyland, E. J., & Masterson, T. D. (2021). Twitch user perceptions, attitudes and behaviours in relation to food and beverage marketing on Twitch compared with YouTube. Journal of Nutritional Science, 10http://dx.doi.org.dbgw.lis.curtin.edu.au/10.1017/jns.2021.22
I really like how you explained how social media is used to uphold civil rights. I think hashtags are a great way of forming communities online as the collection of people with the same interest or speaking about the same topics are grouped into one hashtag. This is an incredible function of social media and this is something that makes social media a very powerful tool.
We’ve seen the power of hashtags via Twitter through movements such as BLM and the Me Too Movement. The use of hashtags was so powerful during the MeToo Movement that the movement transpired into the offline world via riots and protests in order to put an end to the injustice faced by women.
I’ve written a paper on this and I’d love to hear your feedback 🙂
Here’s the link
Hi Saranya. Thanks for reaching my paper!
it’s totally relevant to mention the MeToo Movement in relation to the use of hashtags! Since it takes courage for people to stand out and share their experiences in getting through the sexual harassment. By using the hashtag #MeToo, it gets the messages exposed to more people who follow the hashtag. According to Pew Research Center, “The #MeToo hashtag has been used more than 19 million times on Twitter from the date of Milano’s initial tweet through Sept. 30 of this year,” 7% of the tweets was politics-related content (Pew Research Center, 2018).
Pew Research Center. (2018, October 11). How social media users have discussed sexual harassment since #MeToo went viral. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/10/11/how-social-media-users-have-discussed-sexual-harassment-since-metoo-went-viral/
Interesting paper that you have written about on how people use social media to uphold civil rights. In another assessment for university I was researching the use of hashtags in protests based up on the BLM movement. In a CNN News article by Asmelah (2020) she talks about how the BLM used hashtags to form of a rallying outcry. In many of the posts that used the BLM hashtags their primary role in the US is to eradicate anti-blackness and to be able to have society where the Back people can live peacefully. While this was a goal many of the people in the movement are wanting to raise awareness that this is not the way we anyone should treat people of the racial background. As there was a wide spread of people using the same hashtags it allowed people to support those family’s who lost a loved one the the police brutality.
While there the BLM have used many other social media platforms to spread the BLM movement, I am only aware of the spread through Facebook. In my research I found that not only was this a place to organize protests but it allowed people to offer both motivational and emotional support to one another. The use of hashtags was the driving force behind some the BLM movements that occurred in the last few months.
An article that is interesting to read is by Jost et al ( 2018) who discusses how does social media platforms change the political field. Let me know what your thoughts are on this.
With so many different social media being created and how BLM have piggybacked onto the current platforms to spread awareness of BLM- would there be in the future one platform that will be designed for these type of movements.
CNN, L. A. (2020, July 26). How Black Lives Matter went from a hashtag to a global rallying cry. CNN. https://edition.cnn.com/2020/07/26/us/black-lives-matter-explainer-trnd/index.html
Jost, J. T., Barberá, P., Bonneau, R., Langer, M., Metzger, M., Nagler, J., Sterling, J., & Tucker, J. A. (2018). How Social Media Facilitates Political Protest: Information, Motivation, and Social Networks. Political Psychology, 39(39), 85–118. Wiley Online Library. https://doi.org/10.1111/pops.12478
Hi Amber, Thanks for reaching my paper and the reading suggestion!
I have read through the article written by Jost et al (2018) that you suggested, the argument of the paper was about social media platforms expedite the process of exchanging information that is relevant to organizing protest activities, while the majority of the information was about violence, legal support, police presence, and etc. I agree with this argument as Lysenko and Dezousa (2012) epitomises that Twitter had a significant influence on organizing the Moldovan protest internationally and promoting the information of mass demonstration.
Jost et al (2018) accentuated that “it is becoming increasingly difficult to find a protest that does not have its own distinctive hashtag on Twitter, and it is easy to connect these hashtags to message content, user metadata, and social networks”. An example to strengthen the argument would be the Occupy Wall Street protest with the hasgtag #OWS, which also refers to Occupy Wall Street organization’s official website, this allowed them to control and target the messages, as well as “to aggregate, share and mash-up content – this included their own content as well as content sourced from other media outlets, protest groups, politicians and more” (Adi, 2015).
It’s nice to have a critical discussion with you Amber!
Jost, J. T., Barberá, P., Bonneau, R., Langer, M., Metzger, M., Nagler, J., Sterling, J., & Tucker, J. A. (2018). How Social Media Facilitates Political Protest: Information, Motivation, and Social Networks. Political Psychology, 39(39), 85–118. Wiley Online Library. https://doi.org/10.1111/pops.12478
Lysenko, V., & Desouza, K. (2012). Moldova’s Internet revolution: Analyzing the role of technologies in various phases of the confrontation. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 79, 341–361. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0040162511001223?via%3Dihub
Adi, Ana. (2015). Public Relations Review. Occupy PR: An analysis of online media communications of Occupy Wall Street and Occupy London, volume 41, issue 4, pages 508-514. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0363811115000752
Interesting paper that you have written about on how people use social media to uphold civil rights. In another assessment for university I was researching the use of hashtags in protests based up on the BLM movement. You are correct to say that hashtags are useful and it can help others find posts relating to that keywords. This has been evident in the BLM movement.
The only social media platform that I am aware of that does this is Facebook. In my research I found that not only was this a place to organize protests but it allowed people to offer both motivational and emotional support to one another. The use of hashtags was the driving force behind some the BLM movements that occurred in the last few months.
I do wonder if there any new social media platforms that will be good for movements such as the BLM in the future.
This is Elodie. Your arguments are really insightful and you make a very good point with the use of hashtags as way to gather users with the same interests. I think hashtags can be pictured as massive digital libraries where users can contribute and share their insight on societal issues, just like for the case of BLM. Hashtags which go trending can be pictured as “the talk of the town” where the town is the online community which knows no borders and this is why BLM protests also happened outside the US.
What is your opinion on TikTok as tool for activism? As an avid user myself, I see a lot of potential for this rather new (only 5 years old!) platform to be informational and the manipulation of the algorithm has a lot of similarities with use of hashtags.
Thanks for reaching me paper! From mt point of view, positioning TikTok as a tool for activsm, it could be a huge impact on how powerful it is in forming groups of people who have the same interest, since the algorithm of TikTok works in a way that each of the content being shown to the users are personalized based on what they have liked, followed, commented, and shared. In other words, let’s say if a user liked a few content that is activism-related, he/she would probably be shown more of the relevant content, as the algorithm knows what he/she is interested. Hence, if there are more users are drawn to that particular type of content, there will be a new online community formed.