One would think using social platforms to propel social progress would be second nature to a culture where social media is becoming the primary way to connect with people. With the success of the recent Human Rights Campaign avatar takeover–which caused Facebook to see a 120% increase in profile photo updates– and as we’ve seen through the impact of a certain viral video, maybe promoting causes online does happen naturally.
Call it optimistic thinking because over the past year, validating social media as a tool for social change has increasingly been deconstructed (to put it lightly) in the media. At the root of it all: the transition from “active” methods to passive mediums and short-term action steps. Whether it’s referred to as “Avatar” activism, clicktivism, or any other -ism word, social media can undoubtedly play a major role in sparking real world results (cue: update film) #harmlessplug
A brief case study: On April 2nd we asked people to send tweets to John Kerry to encourage him to keep counter-LRA efforts going in the midst of the turmoil in Central African Republic. By the end of that day, 4,004 tweets were sent to the State Department and the African Union. A total of 6,683 #Kerrystopkony and #AUstopkony tweets were eventually made over the week with 5,002 unique authors behind them. At one point the #kerrystopkony tweet was being sent out every 19 seconds and on day #2 of our action alert campaign, the State Department officially announced a $5 million reward for information leading to the arrest of Kony, causing “Jospeh Kony” to trend worldwide. John Kerry also released an op-ed stating the U.S.’s commitment to stopping the LRA. And then yesterday, The Observer reported the UPDF would resume its efforts toward finding Kony (however, given the prior events in CAR the mission’s future is not secured unless we continue to call for a diplomatic solution from the AU, the Ugandan government and the U.S.)
Case in point: Social media is a powerful force.
If we see the UPDF resume its counter-LRA operations, that victory is greater than any amount of tweets sent out as the civilians in those region will continue to have the protection they need against LRA violence. Also, if we can gain the attention the U.S. State Department and the Secretary of State within a two-day period over Twitter, imagine the possibilities of what we can accomplish in person. What starts online deserves to be taken offline. Join us this summer at the Fourth Estate Leadership Summit as the greatest minds in international justice, film, journalism, business, and economics come together with 1,400 hand-selected activists and educators for a life-changing four days.
Find more information and apply for the Fourth Estate Summit [HERE]
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