Social movements in the age of social media The development of social activism with the influence of social media and how it has changed everything

How do social movement groups get so much momentum so fast?

While some social groups can spread the message physically into their community people are finding it easier to use media outlets to reach out to more people. According to Deana Rohlinger from Florida State University states, “Successful online groups use internet communications and networking to teach supporters new political skills and get them involved in the “real world.” Models for action can be rapidly disseminated, and people can be given tools to get in touch with other potential supporters in their community. Supporters can be taught how to host political gatherings, organize a rally, and canvass their neighbors online.” Often online groups can be more in tune with everything going on.Most times with things online they can spread numerous times faster than other forms of communication. Reinoud Leenders and Steven Heydemann writers of "Popular Mobilization in Syria: Opportunity and Threat, and the Social Networks of the Early Risers" say that “The interaction between social media and different political and economic aspects of life can also create a multiplying effect that can stimulate the creation and formation of social movements.” With all of these numbers and people behind an organization makes you wonder how do they influence laws?

How do social movements influence public policy?

In many cases social movements try to right a wrong presented on them or their communities, thus they must influence lawmakers to change laws to benefit their cause. Kes Sparhawk Amesley an undergraduate with a Phd in Feminist Theory believes that, “Public officials need to look good. It’s the nature of their job. Social movements provide publicity: good or bad, sophisticated or by sheer numbers, or all of the above. Publicity provides pressure.” To influence public policy people strive to criticize officials directly to evoke a response out of them. To do this the tend to present a middle ground for both parties to agree on. James Kielkopf, Public Policy Consultant, derived that, “Most of the theories would analyze social movements as part of a discursive arena in which groups of people arrive at agreed-upon meanings and symbols, based on their beliefs, upbringing, and experiences, which can greatly influence how competing political coalitions interpret policy changes and their outcomes and priorities for collective action.”Many groups have succeed in changing public policy but some tend to stand out of the crowd in how much they have changed.

What are some bigger social media movements?

Through the relevance and control social media has on us today people began movements on these websites to have more eyes looking on over their cause. Rubina Fillion, writer at the Wall Street Journal , talks about the #YesAllWomen movement. “Before allegedly killing six people in May, 22-year-old Elliot Rodger posted a rant on YouTube in which he said he would "slaughter every spoiled, stuck-up blond" in a sorority house because they had rejected him. Within hours, the hashtag #YesAllWomen began trending on Twitter, as women world-wide shared their experiences of harassment, abuse and sexual assault.” Many times issues about sexism go unheard and leads to many people speaking out about wrongs done to their gender. Also social media has aided to movements that want to impose on the government and its policies.Tasha Mitchell strategist for the Huffington Post writes, “September 2014, university students in Hong Kong took to the streets to peacefully protest the Chinese government’s decision to vet all Chief Executive 2017 candidates. The Occupy Central group quickly joined them to ignite what was is known as the Umbrella Revolution. This movement has been constantly compared to the Tiananmen Square protest, and massacre, of 1989. The difference: social media and global news coverage provides second-by-second updates today, allowing the protesters to prove to the world their peaceful movement and rally remote support, too.” With large groups motivating change in the community there tends to be controversy and opposers also.

Who are the people opposing these organizations?

Many people who don't know how to help or support a cause tend to not to aid in its cause.Esquire’s Luke O’Neil states, “Anyone with any degree of self-awareness may be hesitant to blunder his way into areas he wasn’t explicitly invited into, and there has been the regrettable emergence of a reviled archetype in recent years of the performative male feminist who espouses feminist talking points to enhance his own status . . . As a modest suggestion, men simply need to do two things at once: Speak up and keep your mouth shut.” This shows the confusion within the particular issue of women's rights and man's place within it. People who also directly opposing these groups began boycotts and protest to supporter of the opposite group. Meg Wagner, writer at the New York Daily News says, “The group — made of current and former law enforcement officials and their supporters and formed as a reaction to Black Lives Matter — accused the liberal creamery of attacking police in its support of the civil rights movement.” This comment was due to the countermovement group #BlueLivesMatter began boycotting Ben and Jerry’s due to their advocated support of #BlackLivesMatter. While a large majority of groups have a political standing there are some who stay out of politics.

Are there non-politically motivated groups?

Today, many groups are bonded with strong political beliefs but some tend to stay away from that realm. Kevin Hsu, writer for ketagalan media, states, “ Outside of politics, new strategies for precipitating social good have emerged across Taiwan, engaging everyday workers and dedicated activists, as well as idealistic youth and fired-up senior citizens. Crucially, many of these channels are of their own making.” Hsu is referring to the initiative people in Taiwan are actively taking part and changing their community without involving themselves with a political stance.Karen Paget from the American Prospect writes about how people are taking a more traditional approach instead of following large politically motives. “Some activists and theorists see it as a big departure from conventional politics. They credit citizen organizations with reviving grassroots democracy, empowering previously marginalized groups, introducing issues to the public agenda excluded by more powerful interests, transforming passive citizens into active ones, inspiring a new populist revolt, restoring a progressive political coalition, and addressing social problems government has failed to solve.” This transforming view on activism has had impactful effect by being driven simply on good citizenship.


Marginalized: act differently upon do to the small portion of the larger picture

Embolden: To encourage or persuade someone to act a certain way.

Nuanced: A slight difference in the initial meaning

Indictment:to show how something has a negative effect on system or situation.

Anonymity: to remain unknown or have undefined features.

Intangible: something that does not have a psychical or touchable presence.


Jamal, Urooba. "5 Social Movements That Have Galvanized in the Age of Trump."TeleSUR. South Florida News-Tasnim News-In these Times-Columbus Free Press, n.d. Web. 24 Jan. 2017.

Stallbaumer, Thomas . “Social Media Makes More Movements Real Social Media Makes More Movements Real.” proquest, UWIRE, . 27 September 2016 .

“infographic: what is a movement?” Global Fund for Women,

Hsu, Kevin. "Non-political social movements make sustainable change." Ketagalan Media. N.p., 07 Oct. 2016. Web. <>.

ROhlinger, Deana. "How Social Movements are Using the Internet to Change Politics." How Social Movements are Using the Internet to Change Politics | Scholars Strategy Network. N.p., n.d. Web. January 2012<>.

Wagner, Meg. "Blue Lives Matter boycotts Ben & Jerry’s." NY Daily News. N.p., 13 Oct. 2016. Web. <>.

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