Talking about political websites in class got me thinking about social media’s role in protests in the US and around the world. In the past few months, we’ve seen firsthand the impact social media has in sharing information and details about the Ferguson protests. When grand jury decisions came out in the cases of Michael Brown and Eric Garner social media was immediately used to communicate information and outrage. People shared information about when and where protests would be, not only in Ferguson and New York City, but in cities and areas all around the country (See this Wall Street Journal article). Social media played a huge role in spreading awareness about police brutality against people of color as well as getting people to show up at marches and participate in walk outs. Social media was used to spread the movement and gather support around the nation and around the world.
This is not the first time social media has played a large role in the momentum and success of movements and demonstrations in other nations around the world. This past fall protests erupted in Hong Kong following the proposal of laws that would give Beijing more control over Hong Kong government that were supported and broadcast around the world on social media. Last year, protests erupted in Kiev, Ukraine and social media activity contributed to national and international visibility and support for the protests. The various platforms of social media that are available to people have become the communities and networks through which protests and social movements are organized and spread. Even though social media is not solely responsible for protests and social movements around the world, they provide a space where information has the potential to be shared exponentially at a global level.