By Dylan Asher
To what extent does social media influence political participation and civic engagement? Are outlets of social media encouraging a more widespread civil dissent? There is an understandable correlation that people who consume more news have a higher chance of engaging in political participation. At the same time, it could be argued that social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook are able to connect with other likeminded individuals and create movements, protests, and interest groups—thus two systems of political activism and political slacktivism have been created.
Iran’s 2009 Green Revolution was the first ever political insurrection that chronicled on Twitter, but it did not bring down the corrupted government. Egypt’s Tahir Square Protest, however, did just that. Due, in large part, to communication and mobilization from Facebook. The exact nature of the relationship between the revolution and social networking are still being examined, but a general 52% of the protest population communicated details of the insurgence through Facebook.
To put it into a more of a modernized anecdotal reference, earlier this year we say one of the largest counter protests of our generation(s)—The Women’s March, was practically conceived on social media. Unlike the Civil Rights march on Selma, or the smashing of capitalism on Occupy Wall-Street, this protest achieved most of its power through retweets, reblogs, and internet shares. From a personal standpoint, I can tell you that I received close to twenty invitations to march at different locations. The centrality of the social media platform to organizing the event also made the Women’s March a catchall for the breadth of liberal policy concerns.
Eighteen days in Tahir source: CNN
More on the Women’s March can be found here. It is obvious that Facebook has become a breeding ground for political opinions, but the connotations that those opinions give are what’s most important.