Activism Forms in the world of Social Media

By the turn of the twentieth century media organization has established themselves as voices of their societies, although more often they were the voices of politicians in their countries. However, its connection as a source to propagate ideas, the concerns and the struggles of the people was never lost. Perhaps in the second half of the twentieth century with the emergence of many groups advocating or protesting many issues, whether it was the woman’s movement, or Vietnam war in the U.S, or the anti-nuclear movement in the Germany back in the seventies and many other, these activist groups turned to the media as a sphere of political action. Perhaps social movements are the most that sought to public communication medium in order to achieve their projects.

However, there is a distinction must be made for Media activist where according William Carroll they differ in their social sources, sites, strategies and interventions which he identified following as the political economy tied to these media: (1) the institutional architecture of media organizations control and access to production and distribution; (1) the production process within media organizations (including notions of ethics and professionalism), (3) the content, or texts, frames, messages and programmes disseminated through that production process; (4) media audiences, whose attention to and negotiation of the multiple but structured potential meanings of media texts condition the latter’s ideological effectivity; and the cultural and structural ‘environment’ of communication institution” (Caroll, 2006). We can see these really pertain to the traditional mainstream media, so it won’t be surprising when we see how with the help of the new communication technologies people have found new outlets for their activist pursuits.

To shed light on some of activist movements taking place I think one of the most prominent ones are those that are called Hashtag Activism on social media, where we have seen many protests campaigns organizing themselves or voicing their news mainly on Twitter (since it’s the one that has #Hashtag) which they were able to reach to a vast majority of people all over the world. Many other movements come to my mind such as the Arab Spring, where I think the most important element used was social media but then once people gathered on the ground another dynamic would take place in which people began to bond in groups and kind of support each other, at least that’s what happened in Tahrir square in Egypt during the 2011 revolution which threw president Hosni Mubarak. I think these two examples take precedence now a day’s adding to them Occupy Wall Street in the U.S which also used social media extensively to spread its news. And of course there will always be the Indymedia which is one of the early versions of activism with the help of technological means of videotaping the Seattle protests back in the nineties.

Today, we have social media as the newest form of utilizing media for activism, previously we had examples such as “Samizdat” in communist Russia, or the traditional print form magazine “Red Pepper” in the U.K. I have to ask what will be the next new outlet for activists to spread their word.