As most users of social media are aware of, the news can happen in the blink of an eye, becoming viral and gaining a large amount of traction in a short amount of time. This comes from the increase of information flow through social media channels, meaning users of social media become better at detecting the larger issues going on worldwide. However, this is not always a good effect.
Because users are more socially aware, it tends to give them the impetus to do something about it. Because of the constraints of life though, be it school, work, or anything else limiting them, they cannot fully participate, so they instead make light contribution, more typically known as “slacktivism”. This often leads to misguided information or intent, such as the recent protest at Standing Rock. Users were led to believe by a viral post that by checking in on Facebook at Standing Rock, they would confuse the police, who were using the GPS check-ins to track protesters. Unfortunately, this was wasn’t true, but it didn’t stop thousands of people from doing it in a somewhat aimless way. Even worse yet was a news story that was written with a clickbait headline stating that the Great Barrier Reef was dead ended up spreading misinformation at an alarming rate. Thankfully enough for both of these incidents, the misinformation was cleared up quickly.
This “slacktivism” has positive effects, however. It brings attention to the true issues at hand that the original posts are built on. The check-ins at Standing Rock brought a great deal of attention to the ongoing battle between residents of the land and police forces worldwide, and the correcting articles about the Great Barrier Reef informed people about the coral bleaching effects going on currently. Slacktivism may not always hit its intended target, but it still does good.