Beyond “Trending” and Towards Change

Written by: Sydney Wilburn

I, along with most of my peers, have experienced in my teenage and young adult years the age of social media activism. It seems like every large social movement I remember from about middle school to the present has either had its start on social media or runs a heavy social media campaign (KONY 2012, anyone?). Especially with the political climate we find ourselves in now, it seems like a new hashtag (#DressLikeAWoman, #NastyWoman) or Facebook profile picture filter (“I Stand With Refugees”) pops up on my feed every few days. Part of me is in awe of the world of social media we live in today– how a movement can spread like wildfire all across the globe in a matter of hours and bring people together in support — or opposition– of a cause in incredible, unprecedented ways. Social media is a powerful tool for social activism– but it shouldn’t stop there.

First Lady Michelle Obama showing her support of the #BringBackOurGirls social movement in 2014. 

As Zeynep Tufecki said in her TED Talk in 2015, “a network of tweets can unleash a global awareness campaign.” Though Tufecki acknowledges social media’s power to connect and empower people to spread a message they’re passionate about, she also compares social movements of today to those in the 20th century, before Twitter and Facebook– and even computers and cell phones.


Before this powerful networking tool was in our hands, those at the head of political and social activism spread the word in other ways. Though word-of-mouth, posters, and even TV news may have been slower to pass along the message at the time of civil rights protests and sit-ins, for example, Tufecki claims that these movements of old are usually more organized, and as a result, stronger and more sustainable than those begun and continued through social media today. She explains that because organizations leading a movement needed to have stronger leadership before social media in order to spread the word and cause, their organization as a whole was more organized and able to sustain their mission and purpose longer than some “fad” social movements we see today trending on Twitter.

Tufecki said “digital awareness…is great because changing minds is the bedrock of changing politics….but movements today have to move beyond participation of great scale very fast and figure out how to think together, collectively.” If we already have this powerful tool of communication in the hands of today’s great political and social movements, it staggers me to imagine what they could do with more organization, leadership, and cohesion to support their cause past their trending hashtag.


Sichynsky , Tanya . “These 10 Twitter hashtags changed the way we talk about social issues.” The Washington Post. WP Company, 21 Mar. 2016. Web. 05 Feb. 2017.

Tsukayama, Hayley. “Essay: It takes more than social media to make a social movement.” Daily Herald. Washington Post, 03 Feb. 2017. Web. 05 Feb. 2017.

Tufekci, Zeynep. “Online social change: easy to organize, hard to win.” TED Talk. N.p., Oct. 2014. Web. 05 Feb. 2017.

Sandy Hook Promise Releases Impactful PSA About Preventing Gun Violence

By Kayla Whatley

This past Friday, December 2nd, Sandy Hook Promise released a public service announcement, or PSA, that showed a very powerful video about gun violence and knowing the signs before it’s too late.

The video starts out simple enough, a teenage boy in high school who’s scribble on a library desk leads to him sending messages back and forth between a mystery girl and himself. Just as the teens meet for the first time at the end of the school year, the sweet story turns into a dark ending.

Sandy Hook Promise is a nonprofit organization who is taking their tragic event at Sandy Hook Elementary and turning it into a movement dedicated to preventing gun-related deaths due to crime, suicide and accidental discharge. This is being done through parents, schools and community organizations participating in gun violence prevention programs across the country.

The nonprofit released the PSA video to go along with their new “Know The Signs” campaign and it blew up all over Twitter over the weekend.



Screenshot of tweets

Along with these screenshots, there were many more accounts who tweeted out the video. Hopefully all the awareness for this PSA video on both Twitter and Facebook will put Sandy Hook Promise on the map and inform those who watch the importance of knowing the signs of gun violence and speaking up before anything can happen like the ending of that video.


Bologna, C. (2016, December 2). You’ll Never See the Shocking Twist in This Gun Violence PSA Coming. The Huffington Post. Retrieved on December 4, 2016 from

Sandy Hook Promise. Retrieved on December 4, 2016 from

Twitter. Sandy Hook Promise Release Chilling Gun Prevention PSA. Retrieved on December 4, 2016 from

Social Media& Social Movements

By: Faith Hunt

Photo By:


For years social media has become one of the largest platforms for social movements. It seems as more recent events has brought this known fact to our attention more than ever. There are many questions to be asked when it comes to the effectiveness of Social media movements. Does it really make a difference? Is it because celebrities are a part of the movements? Or does the amount of times its posted make all the difference? All factors play roles in the effectiveness.

Some of the top media movements currently are #blacklivesmatter, #freethenipple, #YesAllWomen, and the #icebucketchallenge. If an individual is a regular social media user and has access to twitter, Instagram, snapchat, and Facebook they are more than likely aware of all these movements. Celebrities, politicians, CEO’s and many people of high power are talking about the #blacklivesmatter movement. That movement is arguably the most impactful movement at this time. Individuals involved in this movement are using social media to post videos and pictures of police brutality. They using social media to force people to look at and realize the reality of police brutality. To some that is only one side of the story, and have caused a counter movement called #AllLivesMatter. #Freethenipple is an up and coming movement that has caught the attention of many famous women who believe in public breastfeeding. They are using social media to post pictures of them breast feeding in support of the movement. Instagram has not been supportive of the movement and have been taking pictures down. This has only caused an increase of photos of women breastfeeding.

Social Media is the quickest way for people to start a movement, as well as reach the most amounts of people. It is strategic and smart when used effectively.