Consider an evening at home: your television is on, turned to the local news broadcast. Your phone is in your hand as you tweet about what you are having for dinner. Now consider meshing these two things; instead of posting about dinner plans, you’re live-tweeting the police standoff happening the next block over.
This is a form of social activism, one that is currently being used to broadcast to the world – in real time – the situation in Ferguson, MO. Lydia Brassard writes about the popular Twitter trend, #Ferguson, describing how up-to-date, concise posts have boosted both the country’s view of the situation and the awareness of racial conflicts in not only Ferguson, but in other news events as well.
By keeping up with #Ferguson, according to Brassard, you are filtering through hegemonic news sources that depend on a person’s pre-established views. Instead, you are receiving information from many different sources at once, thereby deepening your understanding of the event on a much broader level. This, in turn, allows for a more accurate and diversely understood public.
The lack of censorship on social media sites is one of the biggest reasons that trends like #Ferguson are so effective. People are free to post what they want. When people choose to post about the news and events instead of their chicken Parmesan dinner, that is when social activism starts.