Cyberactivism or the so-called ‘‘Online activism’’ is defined as an activity where individuals can contribute and advocate towards good causes with the use of the internet. As I mentioned, this movement can be convenient for the activists. In some cases, when protests and traditional demonstrations are denied or forbidden, users can take their digital platforms to express their feelings to create a sense of awareness (‘‘28 Decisive Pros & Cons of online activism’’, 2021).
‘‘A higher level of freedom, few barriers to participate, easy to coordinate…’’, these three elements are sufficient reasons for many people to create a real change on social media.28 Decisive Pros & Cons of online activism. E&C. (2021, December 12). Retrieved January 30, 2022, from https://environmental-conscience.com/online-activism-pros-cons/
Activism comes in many shapes. It may be in form of protests against dictatorial regimes, humanitarian causes, or environmental issues. With the use of the internet, resources can be found everywhere, especially when activists want to inform and educate the audience in regards to a subject that not many have the access to (‘‘28 Decisive Pros & Cons of online activism’’, 2021).
When things get out of hand
Even though cyberactivism is excellent for spreading ideas through social media, there are some problems related to it. Since there’s no extralegal space on the internet, users can get away with things without any consequences (‘‘28 Decisive Pros & Cons of online activism’’, 2021). Having said that, the main idea of a good cause can be misinterpreted and taken out of context, particularly when there are so many people with different ideas, cultures, and even languages.
As an example, National Breast Cancer Awareness Month is celebrated every October, therefore, many individuals and organizations like to take their digital platforms to spread awareness about this matter. In 2010, users created a campaign about spreading a private message to ask females to post the color of the bra they were wearing without any more context (Figure 1). Although the intention was to arise some expectation and curiosity from everyone, it was sexualizing the problem and not making a real change towards the cause (Mahoney & Tang, 2016).
How to make a real change?
Amnesty International has published an important guide where they explain the use of digital tools to enhance any kind of activism. With emerging technologies, communities and users can take the best advantage of it by knowing how to tailor their approaches for better results.
The use of Facebook is very important in this process; it is recommended to set up a public page, create events and share them for a better reach. In this case, Amnesty International advises users to create posts with less than 250 characters while keeping the quantity of the posts up to 10 a week. This will provide more engagement and avoid unnecessary content (‘‘Using Digital Tools for Activism’’, 2020).
For Instagram use, hashtags are highly recommended for others to facilitate the process of finding the content, especially if the group wants to keep up with news within a city or location. By using Canva or Photoshop as editing tools, it will elevate the professionalism of the campaign (‘‘Using Digital Tools for Activism’’, 2020).
On the other hand, Twitter is excellent for broadcasting opinions, thoughts and keeping up with the news. To build a good reputation, it is important to fact-check everything posted, use hashtags to get a broader audience as well as support others by retweeting their content (‘‘Using Digital Tools for Activism’’, 2020).
Finally, if you are working with a team or you are trying to get more people to join your cause, it is recommended to have encrypted messaging tools on hand. This will help to keep some privacy between users. Subsequently, using copyright-free media helps you and your team to not only develop authenticity but to be a serious source with a real reputation. Google Advanced Image Search, Flickr, or United Nations Image Gallery can be a great start to building an extended graphic gallery (‘‘Using Digital Tools for Activism’’, 2020).
28 Decisive Pros & Cons of online activism. E&C. (2021, December 12). Retrieved January 30, 2022, from https://environmental-conscience.com/online-activism-pros-cons/
Fenner, K. (2020, October 11). Breast cancer cyberactivism. Krys Fenner aka Brigit Rosé. Retrieved January 30, 2022, from https://krysfenner.co/2020/10/11/breast-cancer-cyberactivism/
Mahoney, L. M., & Tang, T. (2016). Strategic social media: From marketing to social change. Amazon. Retrieved January 23, 2022, from https://www.amazon.com/Strategic-Social-Media-Marketing-Change/dp/1118556844
Using digital tools for activism. (2020, May). Retrieved January 30, 2022, from https://www.amnesty.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/208-using-digital-tools-for-activism.pdf