Social Media and Social Justice

Connectivity as power is something we see in practice ALL. THE. TIME. on social media. Just think of the recent spread of the hashtags for #Ferguson and #BlackLivesMatter as well as the general rise is sharing evidence of police brutality. It exemplifies as well how these movements aren’t tied to one specific social media website. It encompasses Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, Vine: its spread is frankly enormous. As discussed in the lecture, social media provides an avenue for mass communication that doesn’t rely on or enforce passivity. Think about using a telephone, even – in order for one person to get their information across, the other must be silent in order to hear. Whereas, on social media you can be putting out information and absorbing information from others at such a rapid pace that it is effectively simultaneous.

And it isn’t only in areas of massive political significance (‘only’ seems very much the wrong word for a statement about such a hugely important thing). The applications for this massively powerful system of communication are crazy numerous! During the Christchurch earthquake a few years ago, Kiwi friends of mine living in Australia where entirely unable to get onto family back home through the clogged up phone lines, and so social media became a hub for New Zealanders abroad looking to find if their loved ones were alright, in a huge organised effort which took place and was communicated entirely over social media like Facebook.

Police Brutality meme2

And one more for the road.

Police Brutality meme3

Makes claims that young people spend too much time on their phones seem pretty trivial, huh?


11 thoughts on “Social Media and Social Justice

  1. Connectivity is such a powerful tool and it has caused a social shock in regards to social issues like police brutality more people are being activated and made aware which is causing growing pains, but hopefully healthy ones.

  2. I completely agree with you, I think that with the proliferation of social media and the Internet, and the effects of globalisation, we are becoming more and more connected meaning. That instance like Ferguson has been happening for years but it wasn’t until the broadcasting and buzz that most people became aware and can thus in return respond. I also agree that social media is a quick way to communicate with loved ones, a way that bypasses slow traditional mediums. For instance when I hear that something is happening in South Africa, my country of birth, I turn to Facebook first rather than Skyping or calling. Its due to the real time, low cost, popularity and ease of access that these platforms have that attract me to their use.

  3. I think you make a good point about how social media is viewed in the sense that its not often seen as an important tool for activism or change. I think what we’re seeing is a rise in this debate between people seeing social media as drawing us closer together and connecting us, and social media destroying our interpersonal connections. Hashtags like #Ferguson and #BlackLivesMatter are certainly example of the former. What is exciting is the potential of social media to do things like connect your Kiwi friends after the earthquake!
    While all of this is absolutely amazing, I think it can be easy to feel that tweeting or posting to Facebook is enough. Although we shouldn’t be disregarding the good that social media can do in raising awareness and organising causes, we should also acknowledge that action in real life should be the next step. What I mean by this is that after we’ve posted that tweet, we should stand up from our laptops and think, “Good job, now what else can I do?”

  4. Hi Dael,

    I posted this comment on the 27th of September but it mustn’t have gone through properly. I just realised now when collating all of my comments for the upcoming assignment.


    I think an interesting angle to consider about hashtags such as #Ferguson and #BlackLivesMatter is how they will be used in the future as portraits of past events. The prolific role of social media in activist movements means that history no longer needs to be documented – history books are being written everyday on social media by users.

    An article I found ( reflects on the way hashtags never really die. Even after a hashtag has faded from memory, the conversation surrounding it still exists and continues to unfold. For example, if we were to create a timeline of politically significant events for 2013, wouldn’t hashtags be a good starting point? Perhaps then, social media does play a very significant role in revolutions, not only due to the power of connectivity in the present, but also the potential power inherent in the aggregation of social media data for future reference.

    Interesting post! I think it would be great if you could add in hyperlinks to sources relevant to your discussion. This would make your post more interactive for readers and may further enhance their learning on this topic.

  5. I really thought the examples ans cases you used for your post were well chosen, I haven’t come across one yet about police brutality as a social media activism topic. The meme was an excellent touch too i thought, and a very interesting question it poses. There was a lot of information in your post, but your discussion of every piece of evidence make it very easy to digest and read, I definitely learnt a thing or two 🙂

  6. You’ve made a great post in applying this week’s research to your own very relevant examples. It seems to me that while social media users can just jump onto any cause (not to say these causes are not important!) the platforms are very clearly truly phenomenal instruments of organisation and dissemination. In particular, without the ability to share information to mass audiences, even a smart phone’s ability to record images and video of an event – like acts of police brutality – become singular, individual and without any real impact. Social media can be the force behind revolution or change, simply because it basically creates a massive, unified army – or a body of mass witnesses and uncountable copies of evidence or proof – and no government or authority can really compete with millions of people banging on their doors. It’s fantastic and scary the power social media can have.
    Again, great post – very clear and concise with relevant memes! Great work 🙂

  7. Similar take to the proliferation of social media communications in the Egyptian revolution. Where social media exposed authoritarian groups, the same is happening in America where people video these events -as a result people are like “shit, these people are supposed to protect us”. You could argue that this incited a similar protest to the Arab Spring. Great post dude.

  8. Great blog post. I really like the examples you’ve used and how they clearly highlight how important social media is becoming. The personal touch about how social media helped your Kiwi friends to find out whether family members were okay was nice too.
    Keep up the good work. 🙂

  9. This is a really great take on social media and its different abilities. I like the example you use of police brutality, and I think you are probably right in saying that it may not be that police brutality is on the rise, but that we just have more evidence of it. I remember seeing an example in the media a few years ago; I can’t remember all the details but I’m pretty sure it was police brutality, or some form of racial violence, and all these people were crowding around holding their smartphones up almost like weapons, as if to say “we will have this on camera, you won’t get away with it” and I remember thinking that was really cool – this is something we would never have seen before social media.
    It is an interesting thing when people say young people “don’t know how to really communicate”. I think when they say that what they are really saying is that young people don’t know how to communicate THEIR way. In actual fact, social media is probably the way of the future, and those criticising it are probably the ones who are behind the 8 ball.
    Great post, great examples! Keep up the good work!

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