#hastag Activism: Does it Work?

Twitter has been widely credited with being a driving force in the Arab Spring uprisings of the early 2010s and for good reason – twitter allows individuals to rapidly disseminate information and to spread opinions and views quickly. While few dispute its previous impact on international events, does twitter activism work when it comes to less dire circumstances?

Recently, noted comedian Stephen Colbert came under fire for an incentive and out-of-context tweet regarding asians. A twitter fire-storm ensued, with #CancelColbert trending across the nation. Ultimately, Colbert’s show was not effected in the slightest – he was even given a promotion to replace David Letterman on The Late Show on CBS.

What does this say about Twitters influence on activism. The Wall Street Journal claimed that “Twitter may be the most powerful amplifier for individual voices that history has ever produced” but then acknowledged that its 140-character limit can be its biggest downfall. In the case of the Colbert situation, in which the original quote was taken out of context from a joke poking fun at the Washington Redskins, this was certainly the case. #Hastag activism will continue to be a driving force in world events, yet its lack of depth may inhibit the proper amounts of information to be spread

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3 responses to “#hastag Activism: Does it Work?

  • Jillian Waller

    I think hashtag activism can be effective in creating more widespread awareness, but pretty ineffective in creating actual change. When millions of users tweet with the same hashtag, it creates a lot of noise and that hashtag becomes increasingly popular. But unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), that hashtag doesn’t create organizational or policy change, it just creates noise about an issue.

  • briannasteinmetz

    While hashtag activism can quickly disseminate information, influence trends and increase awareness, its character limit, as well as its millions of subscribers, can spread incorrect or sometimes even damaging information. During the Boston Bombings, people were asked to refrain from Tweeting as people were tweeting the whereabouts of the police and the condition of their neighborhood. If the brothers had access to the internet, Twitter would have actually increased their chances of remaining hidden and significantly hurt the investigation. While Twitter is an effective global social media, we must remember its limitations and treat it as a social media tool that may help spread information, not a tool that will create change.

  • emcdona1

    I think that hashtag activism can sometimes just create a lot of noise, but not actually spring people into action. Part of this problem is the character limit, but the other part is the notion that simply posting something on Twitter will make a difference. Let us not get hashtag activism and activism mixed up. There is a difference between simply retweeting something and truly taking action on a subject you are passionate about.

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