On How Social Media Shapes Protest Movements

Ford Fisher, occasionally of this parish, is a video journalist and founder of News2Share. His footage from inside high profile protests is fascinating although sometimes too long to watch repeatedly and analyse. So insights like this where he is spotting patterns in his work are really useful windows into the workings of movements.

Ford was heading out to film a protest in favour of immigration amnesties for the children of illegal immigrants and posted this to Facebook. I found it sufficiently thought-provoking to share here:

About to go to another pro-DACA protest to livestream for News2Share. Protest has become the new brunch for many DC people.

Some people joke on my livestreams when they see activists take selfies. Funny as it may be, it’s a sign that activist leaders are successful.

When someone is attending a protest to get that selfie because everyone will like it rather than their picture of brunch, it means the movement has made their issue and technique so mainstream that participating puts someone in the “in-crowd.”

Social media, however silly it looks from the outside, probably is a major force in shaping today’s street movements.

His livestream from that day is embedded below:

One Comment

  1. I am not sure what “protesting” is supposed to achieve. Who has their opinions changed by watching other people shouting slogans and waving signs?

    Perhaps the reason that protesting is now so popular is indeed Social Media – people want to see themselves in pictures. Very much like the “selfie” cult – where people spoil photographs of nice places by shoving their own face in the centre of the photograph (at least that would ruin a scene from my point of view – clearly other people like to see themselves more than I wish to see myself).

    But also Civics is no longer taught in American schools – not really. Ask children what the Bill of Rights are and most will not be able to give a proper response – but they know all about organising “protests” (because this is what they are taught).

    Yes the right to peaceably assemble is there – but I doubt that most students would support most of the rest of the Bill of Rights.

    For example Freedom of Speech would be rejected – because of the “Hate Speech” doctrine that students are taught.



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