Social Media: A Floor for Activism

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Even though the days of picket signs and marching for rights haven’t ceased to exist, activism is finding a new home with social media. More causes are popping up on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, more so than on your local news. Several campaigns are spreading fast and receiving more and more coverage due to social media. Here are three campaigns that have found a voice through social media, giving hope to causes big and small.

  It Gets Better Campaign

  The It Gets Better Campaign was started in the fall of 2010 by gay rights activist and columnist Dan Savage after Billy Lucas of Indiana committed suicide due to bullying because of his sexuality. The It Gets Better Campaign is a campaign based on YouTube videos of people of all ages, genders and sexualities, giving hope to those who feel that being homosexual in our society will never “get better.” The campaign has also expanded to Facebook and Twitter.

  This effort has received recognition and videos from multiple celebrities including Anne Hathaway and Ke$ha, and President Barack Obama is one of the movement’s biggest supporters. Thousands of videos have been uploaded by ordinary people just like you.The combination of presidential support, celebrities and a grassroots response from the people makes for a powerful message of social change.

  Even though we have no clear way of measuring the success rate in preventing homosexual suicide, this campaign has definitely had its effect on viewers. Within two months of its release there were 10,000 videos with more than 35 million views. In March 2011, the campaign also released the book It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living. The book includes essays from more than a 100 contributors.

  It Gets Better Campaign has found a home not only on YouTube, but in the hearts of thousands of people who have lost hope. This campaign has definitely found a strong base in social media, giving the otherwise voiceless a voice in society.

  Women2Drive

  The right to drive is not equal for all in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi Women for Driving Coalition has launched multiple campaigns pursuing a woman’s right to drive in Saudi Arabia. The movement began after Man-Al-Serif, a key figure in the coalition, was arrested for posting a YouTube video driving around in her car. This arrest sparked a full on social media campaign.

  On June 17, 2011, all Saudi women were urged to get out and drive their cars around. YouTube, as with the It Gets Better Campaign, became the major forum for Saudi women. Honk for Saudi Women contains videos of people who support women drivers through inspiring messages and then honking for them.

  This campaign has also received recognition due to Change.org. Saudi women have recently petitioned Subaru to stop selling cars in their country. Subaru is a brand that has found a strong base in marketing towards the female population and the coalition believes they should support the women’s movement. The company has stated that they will look into the request and are pleased to be noted as progressive.

  Senator Hillary Clinton publicly supports the Saudi women’s campaign. Maybe it’s due to the petition for Mrs. Clinton to support them on Change.org, Facebook and Twitter. Whatever the case, social media and the internet have created a way to contact potential supporters who otherwise may have been impossible to contact. Do you honk for Saudi Women?

  Girl Scouts on a Mission against Girl Scout Cookies

  Everyone has their favorite: Thin Mint, Samoa, Tagalong or one of the other great Girl Scout Cookies. Well two young girls, who are also Girl Scouts, are attempting to put a stop to the use of palm oil in the cookies. Madison Vorva and Rhiannon Tomtishen launched a campaign with the Rainforest Action Network to stop the use of palm oil in Girl Scout Cookies.

  Palm oil plantations have caused grave deforestation in Rainforests in Indonesia. The girls are also petitioning to stop the use of palm oil because the plantations are destroying the homes and wellbeing of orangutans. So how do two teenage girls manage to make their cause nationally known? By blowing up social media.

  Like the women of Saudi Arabia, these girls also have a petition on Change.org. They took it a step further by having their supporters write a message on the Girl Scouts of USA Facebook wall about not using palm oil in cookies. Supporters were also urged to tweet to the Girls Scouts Twitter page and celebrity alum, like Taylor Swift, for support.

  The Facebook Wall got so out of hand that The Girls Scouts of the USA removed all individual comments and disabled sharing links on the page. As a result, the girls have succeeded in scheduling a meeting with the representatives of Girl Scouts USA . That says something about the power of social media.

  A New Form of Activism

  Social Media is giving people of every age, sex and accomplishment a vehicle to spread support for causes. Through a simple YouTube video or message on a Facebook wall, activism can happen from your computer chair. From a huge campaign like It Gets Better to two Girl Scouts trying to prevent deforestation, social media is paving the way for all causes and all voices.

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