With messages, photos and videos on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, social networks are fueling political resistance against President Donald Trump: “they not only spread the word, they help people organize their protests or raise funds for advocacy groups the rights of immigrants and the protection of refugees” say protesters.
Shortly after President Donald Trump banning people from seven major Muslim countries into the United States, social activist Dex Torricke-Barton took advantage of Facebook.
“I’m thinking of organizing a demonstration,” he said.
In a few hours more than 1,000 people expressed interest. A week later the resulting protest in front of the San Francisco City Hall drew thousands.
Torricke-Barton is not the only one
The new digital media of social communication are making possible a political action that the activists in the 1960 could hardly have imagined.
For example, a group of 27 women in the Queens district of New York gathered to write postcards to their state representatives at an event organized through Facebook.
Members of the Ravelry social network, which brings together needle and crocheted weavers have been exchanging tips and patterns for knitting pink pussy hats, which emerged as a symbol during the Women’s March in Washington and similar protests elsewhere of Trump’s investiture.
“This is an incredible project because it mixed the digital and the physical,” said Jayna Zweiman, one of the founders of Project Pussyhat. “We have taken advantage of social networks for good.”
In 1969, activists organized mass marches throughout the United States to protest against the war in Vietnam. The protests attracted millions of people from around the world.
But to organize them “it took months, a lot of effort, we needed to create a national office of organization,” recalled Christopher Huff, a professor at Beacon College specializing in social movements in the 1960 s. “The march of women was achieved on a much larger scale in a fraction of that time. ”
This immediacy is both an advantage and a disadvantage
“Although online networks help people move quickly around a cause”, Huff adds, “they do not necessarily help people understand the long-term effort required to maintain a movement”.
Shortly after Trump’s executive order, venture capitalist Bijan Sabet tweeted a link to the fundraising platform, appending an explanation expressing his support for the ACLU. Then he asked his followers to do the same.
Sabet estimated that it could take about two months to reach his goal of raising $ 50,000. (It took only three days).
That weekend, the ACLU raised $ 24 million, far more than the $ 4 million it receives in a typical year.
Sabet, whose father was born in Iran, says she is seeing how civic engagement is “rising up” and that social networks are pushing it. Previously, she added, people could say “yes, I’m a little frustrated, but I do not have all the information, I do not know how to participate”. Now, she said, there is no excuse.