Hashtag Activism and Social Change

Posted: November 26, 2016 in Uncategorized


The term “hashtag activism” has entered the language to describe the use of social media (and notably the viral power of #hashtags) to spread messages, raise awareness, and mobilize action. While some remain skeptical the effectiveness of hashtag activism, many believe it has become an indispensable tool for social change.

For case studies, see”2015’s Top Social Activism Campaigns” and  “The Most Memorable Brand Hashtags of All Time“.

One of the best-known hashtag campaigns is #BlackLivesMatters. See this Pew Research study, “Social Media Conversations About Race“, notably the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter.

Other hashtag campaigns have raised awareness globally, such as #BringBackOurGirls. Still, some claim hashtag activism a superficial Western response to global problems. On that, see “#BringBackOurGirls, Hashtag Activism, and the Diaspora“. See also “Hashtag Activism and Its Limits“.

On the larger issue of the effectiveness of social media activism, see the opposing views of Malcolm Gladwell and Clay Shirky. Gladwell’s controversial piece in The New Yorker, “Small Change: Why the Revolution Will Not Be Tweeted” argued that social media is not an effective tool for social change. Clay Shirky took the opposite poisition in “The Political Power of Social Media“.


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