How Social Media Affects Protests

Social media having the huge impact it does, has the ability to change and empower protests like never before. With the recent Black Lives Matter protests going on worldwide I thought this seemed like an appropriate topic to speak of.

            Disclaimer; I have zero firsthand experience with the horrible dealings that black people and people of colour deal with everyday. As a white male that was raised in a middle-class environment I was never exposed to any sort of negative interactions and am absolutely aware of my privilege and how I can help. I support the movement 100%.

            The impact that social media can bring to protests is immense. It is impossible to go on any social media site at the moment and not see the discussions, protests, riots, and unfortunately the ignorant people as well. The spread that it provides is nothing like we’ve seen in protests prior. Allowing more people to see proof of what is happening without relying on journalists or news broadcasters to provide it. Journalists and news broadcasters unfortunately don’t always present images without a biased opinion. That is where the power of social media comes in, allowing thousands of people to show firsthand experience without having bias on the topic.

            Sites such as; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tiktok to name a few, provide resources to people trying to spread the message. Facebook specifically allows people to create events for marches and protests gatherings. Facebook and Instagram provide the “Story” option, so people don’t have to scroll down their feeds to find the information they’re looking for. Especially with the unfortunate happening of the hashtag #blackouttuesday. Originally an idea for people to take a break from posting so only those sharing useful information can have the platform empty of “fluff” posts. But it turned into millions of people posting black squares using the hashtags #blacklivesmatter, and #blm. This flooded the hashtags, and anybody looking for information on the topic was stopped abruptly with this sea of uselessness. Only later in the day was the message spread to use the hashtag #blackouttuesday to prevent important posts from being overlooked.

            With thousands of independent media outlets all over social medias I find one app quite useful. That app is Snapchat. Snapchat, with their discover page allows the users to scroll through thousands of public access stories. Large news broadcasters such as NBC news have public stories presenting information on topics in less than 3 minutes. This lets people who are in a hurry and perhaps don’t have time to read an article or watch a long video, have the ability to get information that is useful that fits their busy lifestyle. For those who have more time, there are stories such as; Pod Save America which is two guys talking about the politics happening than and there, even late night hosts Seth Meyers and Trevor Noah have stories where they share unbiased information and depending on the topic add a hint of comedy to relieve some of the tension and make it more interesting.

            Social media shows both sides to protests. The good and the bad. Whereas traditional news broadcasters on television mainly show the negative side. Showing the good side of protests when others are only showing the bad side is important because although some outlets are exclusively showing the rioting, looting, and beatings by police officers. Social media shows both, and the fact that 95% of the protests have been peaceful. Showing protesters hugging, high fiving, protecting cops (in some cases), and even providing water to police officers knowing some are only there because they are ordered to be there.

            One final piece of social media that I believe is overlooked a lot is Podcasts. There are thousands out there on any topic you can imagine. Podcasts are useful because they let the hosts have many guests as well as a large amount of time to speak about the topic. Most podcasts are between 30 to 60 minutes. Pod Save America for example. Mentioned earlier with them having a Snapchat story involving current news. On the podcast they go more in depth for people who watch Snapchat and are intrigued to dive further into the discussion.

            These social media outlets allow everyone to be a part of the conversation. That is an extremely powerful tool for the public. Being able to see what their friends are saying, seeing what companies, celebrities, and politicians “support” the cause and calling them out on their bull****. Never, has the power truly belonged to the people.

            What social media platforms do get your information from? What is your opinion on what happened with #blackouttuesday? Lastly, what do you think of what is happening in the United States at the moment?

Need to educate yourself? Here’s are some links to pages that can help you be aware, and a part of the solution.

Minnesota Freedom Fund

Black Lives Matter

How You Can Help

Works Cited

Crooked. Pod Save America. n.d. https://crooked.com/podcast-series/pod-save-america/. 04 June 2020.

Foster, Katie. Independent. 10 July 2016. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/oxford-street-closed-black-lives-matter-protest-london-philando-castile-alton-sterling-a7129656.html. 04 June 2020.

Lee, Tony. Breitbart. 11 July 2016. https://www.breitbart.com/the-media/2016/07/11/palincallsoutmsmblacklivesmatter/. 04 June 2020.

NBC. n.d. https://www.nbc.com/late-night-with-seth-meyers. 04 June 2020.

Observer, The News &. Youtube. 31 May 2020. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PwlvsZp6EhM. 06 June 2020.

T, Archelle. trendsmap. 02 June 2020. https://www.trendsmap.com/twitter/tweet/1267832884611756034. 04 June 2020.

The Daily Show. n.d. http://www.cc.com/shows/the-daily-show-with-trevor-noah. 04 June 2020.

4 thoughts on “How Social Media Affects Protests

  1. Thank you so much for this very important topic! I think that we should be thankful for social media making it easier to see more sides to a story as we know that most news reporting agencies are government funded. This leading to a one way stream of what is actually going on. However, the only other downside is the algorithms presented by social media platforms sucking people into one side without considering all sides which a lot of people have no idea to escape. I feel like this is a problem with the ignorance around certain topics.

    • It really is unfortunate that most of the reporting broadcasters are government-funded because I find they’re either “Conservative” biased or “Liberal” biased. Rarely do I see one that views both sides, and that’s why I think it’s so important for people to have the power to videotape events, especially one as important as Black Lives Matter! I do agree that not every important video or article gets the proper algorithmic boost it needs and most of the time I find the “Liberal” videos get more boost than the “Conservative”. I enjoy looking at both sides so I can get a proper unbiased understanding.

  2. Wow, i had no idea I could use Snapchat in that way! I have been in awe of how social media has completely changed the activism game recently as well. It’s like the people’s court and its actually working!

    • Yeah! There is a lot of cool, informative public stories on Snapchat. I get my snippets of news from there most of the time!

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