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Online social movement

Online communities build off social movements, enabling the connection of persons worldwide to develop a base and gain awareness to the cause. Online social movements gained momentum in the late 20th century and early 21st century[1] as new generations sought social change. With access to the internet and the fast growing World Wide Web, online social movements brought awareness to issues both political and social. Online social movements have been praised and criticized; the former for its ability to raise awareness to important causes, and the latter for its ability to perpetuate problems like slacktivism. Although online activism has received criticism, it has had real impacts on social movements.

The impact of online movementsEdit

The impact of online movements has been substantial since the introduction of the internet. With the ever-growing medium of social media, internet activism has reached the forefront of the internet. Through the use of social networking sites such as Facebook and content-sharing sites as YouTube, the opportunity for wide-scale, online social participation has increased.[2]

Beneficial impactsEdit

Several social media movements have raised money for causes, such as the ALS Ice Bucket challenge raising $100million[3] in 30 days. Even if they do not directly involve monetary funding, many online social movements raise awareness for causes such as institutionalized racism against African Americans with the Black Lives Matter movement and the inappropriate use of force by police authorities against black females, such as with the Say Her Name social movement. In the political sphere, active online groups increase political participation by providing a framework for discussion, leading petitions, and collecting donations in order to further a political agenda.[4]

Detrimental impactsEdit

Some experts believe there are potential weaknesses and long-term repercussions that can be identified with online movements. Some examples are clicktivism and slacktivism, where the use of social media to promote a cause include activities such as:[5]

  • Organizing protests
  • Facilitating boycotts
  • Online parody and satire

Examples of online movementsEdit

Social movements advance their work through the media. It is easier, less costly as well as time consuming to link collective behavior as real time communication can occur vastly and simultaneously via social media.[6]Some examples of online movements include:

Mulea Campaign

The futureEdit

The future of online movements is hard to predict. However, there are some clear directions where they could certainly lead towards. Vanessa DiMauro believes the biggest trend concerning online communities in the near future is private online communities. While these large networks that we encounter and use on a day-to-day basis have provided us with a productive and collaborative experience they have also increased to unmanageable sizes. To become a learning environment these groups need to be much smaller and manageable. This is where the idea and trend of private online communities could potentially be the future of online communities.[9]

Online Social Movements and Commercial Social Media PlatformsEdit

Since the late 2000s, an increased use of commercial social media platforms by social movements has been reported. According to Lopes, "Social Media websites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and the various online blogs have arguably given a voice to individuals that otherwise would not be heard." [1] However, the adoption of these commercial platforms has concerned analysts as they highlighted asymmetrical relationships between the for-profit aims of social media and the copy-left values that drive many online movements. According to Fenton, "Claims for the extension and re-invention of activism need to be considered in the context of the material social and political world of inequality, injustice and corporate dominance."[2] For example, "in his analysis of the Purple Movement (Popolo Viola) in Italy and its extensive use of Facebook, Coretti (2014) demonstrates that, while the myth of the network as open and inclusive persists, it acts as a disguise for the communication protocols of commercial social networking platforms that may well enable large-scale mobilization but ultimately, through their very functionality, encourage organizational centralization and fragmentation in social movements" (Fenton, 2016, p.184).[10] The proprietary nature of the design of platforms such as Facebook pages fails to provide movements with the necessary instruments in terms of a shared democratic management of their resources. Moreover, the inability to manage Facebook pages and groups according to commonly agreed values promotes vertical power structures within movements, contributing to controversial management of Facebook pages and to internal divisions that significantly hinder the potential of protest[11].

Important figuresEdit

  • Shaun King; a Twitter-based civil rights activist.
  • DeRay McKesson; Twitter- and Instagram-based civil rights activist, known for his involvement in the Black Lives Matter movement.
  • Colin Kaepernick; American football quarterback known for his involvement in the Black Lives Matter movement and causing controversy for kneeling rather than standing for the national anthem, a symbolic act in protest of the unjust and oppressive treatment of people of color in the United States.
  • Rachel Dolezal; civil rights activist that caused controversy after her Caucasian parents disclosed that she was a Caucasian woman passing as black.[12] Received backlash on various social media platforms for claiming she was a victim of hate crimes as an African American woman.[13]
  • Van Jones; civil rights activist and creator of various initiatives such as #YesWeCode, which is meant to give aid to minorities in technology fields.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Ideas, Mobilizing (2012-08-01). "Social Movements: How People Make History". Mobilizing Ideas. Retrieved 2017-04-13.
  2. ^ Rotman, D., Preece, J., Vieweg, S., Shneiderman, B., Yardi, S., Pirolli, P., Chi, E.H., Glaisyer, T. (2011). From Slacktivism to Activism: Participatory Culture in the Age of Social Media
  3. ^ "The ALS Association Expresses Sincere Gratitude to Over Three Million Donors". Retrieved 2017-03-14.
  4. ^ "How Social Movements are Using the Internet to Change Politics | Scholars Strategy Network". Retrieved 2017-04-13.
  5. ^ Clicktivist.(2014). What is clicktivism?. Retrieved 16 May 2014 from
  6. ^ Thompson, John (1995). The Media and Modernity: A Social Theory of the Media (0 ed.). ISBN 978-0804726795.
  7. ^ Tiffany, Dykstra (18 January 2017). "(Cyber)activism in an online social movement: Exploring dialectics and discourse in The Zeitgeist Movement". Retrieved 18 January 2017.
  8. ^ Dykstra, Tiffany; Rivera, Kendra (20 January 2016). "Cyberactivism or Cyberbalkanization? Dialectical Tensions in an Online Social Movement". Journal of Social Media Studies. 2 (2): 65–74. doi:10.15340/2147336622871. Retrieved 18 January 2017.
  9. ^ DiMauro, V. (2011). The Future Of Online Community. Retrieved from
  10. ^ "Misunderstanding the Internet: 2nd Edition (Paperback) - Routledge". Retrieved 2018-04-18.
  11. ^ Coretti, Lorenzo (June 2015). "The rise and fall of collective identity in networked movements: communication protocols, Facebook, and the anti-Berlusconi protest". Information, Communication & Society. 18 (8): 951–967. doi:10.1080/1369118X.2015.1043317.
  12. ^ Pérez-peña, Richard (2015-06-12). "Black or White? Woman's Story Stirs Up a Furor". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-04-13.
  13. ^ "Rachel Dolezal Will Break Her Silence on Tuesday". Time. Retrieved 2017-04-13.