How can social media networks aid and implement large scale social revolutions and thought movements? Just ask the folks over at the Occupy movement.
The Occupy movement started with an online call-to-action by Adbusters, a fringe culture magazine with anti-capitalist tendencies. Adbusters urged Americans to begin an occupation of the financial district of New York City on September 27, 2011. Now, 41 days later, tens of thousands of Americans are occupying cities all across the country thanks to amazingly effective social media communication.
So how did they do it? Hashtags, videos, Facebook events, and total social media infection. The idea spread like a virus; from Twitter to Facebook to YouTube to youth across the nation. Once the movement attracted the attention of traditional media there was no stopping it.
Social media’s role in modern social movements came to light during the Arab Spring in early 2011. Populist movements in Egypt and Tunisia used social media, namely Facebook and Twitter, as a communications and organizational tool. When government -controlled media outlets spewed only propaganda, the people turned to social media for the truth.
The Occupy movement has taken this idea and expanded on it. Social media can now be the catalyst for social movements, not just a medium through which they operate. Too bad Occupy can’t use social media to come up with a coherent platform; that might just be too much to ask.