Social media activism takes the form of trending hash-tags, Facebook profile picture overlays, or the most recent, the standing rock location check-in, and everyone who uses social media is no stranger to it. Regardless of whether those who express their opinions through social media are lazy or cowards, or whether their status or tweets are actually beneficial, there is no question that social media has altered the game of activism (Cammaerts, 2015). As Heidi put it, media has made activism so simple you merely open your inbox and respond to various requests to sign online petitions or to like, share or re-tweet in favor of the causes you support or against those you oppose. “Who new changing the world could be so easy?” acclaimed Heidi. Therefore, it is true to argue that activism through social media is successful and should be encouraged and used (Cammaerts, 2015). There are a number of reasons to support this notion as stated below.
It is common knowledge and believes that saying and doing are mutually inclusive actions and therefore, it is more likely for those talking about a cause to take action. Social activism is more accessible to individuals with disabilities who have the will to take part in cause of action either through protest, attending rallies, or conversing yet unable to do so (Cammaerts, 2015). Research indicates that persons with disabilities are more into social media activism to air their grievances, views as well as sponsor the cause of action. It gives them an equal opportunity as their non-disabled counterparts and as such, it is a great opportunity too and alternative to those within small town/rural areas to participate in protest. Through social media activism, activists are able to turn a cause into action or movement and as suggested in numerous researches, it is the only medium providing great sense of community, oneness, and perfect route in posting real-time updates for those with common cause (Cammaerts, 2015).
To be precise, twitter, face-book and you-tube have greatly altered the means and ways of people’s relationship across the world. The platforms has enhance sharing of information on vast areas which is the fundamental values that activism relies on for its success. The media enables persons from different parts of the world learn of incidents or development of events through a click of the button (Cammaerts, 2015).
Functions and Roles of Social Media for Activism
Activism deploys the social media functions and roles networked technologies. The roles and functions are largely categorized as internal or external. Inward functions and roles refer to organization internal debates, coordination as well as decision making regarding the cause of action to be taken. On the other hand, outward functions and roles of media in activism relates to recruitment, mobilization, creation of alternatives, and attack strategies contributing to vibrant public sphere in activism (Cammaerts, 2015). There are eight main logics for the use of social media in activism particularly concerning protest movements as follows: coordinating direct activist actions and mobilizing for efforts, recruiting, networking, and organizing internally, disseminating movement frames in isolation of the major stream, debating/discussing/deciding or deliberating, ideologically attacking enemies, protecting protest artifacts, and surveilling the surveillers (Cammaerts, 2015). Communication actions relates to the potential of social media taking internal bodies communication more efficient. The utilization of social media in activism has lowered the transaction and transition costs of participation and in turn, it has potentially fostered retention and recruitment of new individuals to participate and fight for a common cause. In other words social media has enabled asynchronous participation of organization members and increased membership that is more fluid (Cammaerts, 2015).
Another vital characteristic of social media is that it increases the ability of social movements/ organizations to organize and participates across borders regardless of tribes, culture, or religions and at the same time in transnational level. This in effect link and brings other organizations on board thereby building large networks, which overcome space/time constrains and eventually leads to movement’s spillover (Cammaerts, 2015). At the same time social media plays a vital role and function in facilitating the mobilization of and coordination of a direct cause of action offline. Improvement on mobile technology has even made the social media activism very active and has increasingly grown stronger and stronger with time.
The future is here for social media to take shape in activism and the world by storm. This is the way to go and personally, I held the view that social media is here to stay in activisms. To make activisms, protest of good cause to be effective, then social media is very vital (Cammaerts, 2015).
Cammaerts, B. (2015). Social Media and Activism. The International Encyclopedia of Digital Communication and Society, 1-8. doi:10.1002/9781118767771.wbiedcs083