In Australia we believe we are living in a comfortable, democratic society and find it hard to comprehend otherwise. It is easy for us to use connectivity to broadcast our own thoughts and messages through social media in a way that is considered activism. Just by looking back on recent hashtags such as #refugeeswelcome, #lovewins and #Ferguson we see how social media power can enhance organisation and control of revolutionary movements. However, some argue that ‘today’s cyber-utopians need to log off their Facebook accounts and try a little harder.’
One example of someone who has proven to do this is ‘Syrian Girl’, a Youtube activist who isn’t afraid to speak her mind and argues ‘we think we are living in a Democracy but we really aren’t.’ She says the reason why she created the Youtube channel was because ‘at the beginning of the Arab Spring everybody thought it was pro democracy uprising and it was going to be great. But in reality I knew that protesters, a lot of them had Muslim brotherhood backgrounds in politics which means there was great potential for extremism. There was a lot of Syrian people that were opposed to what was going on in Syria and I found that wasn’t really being portrayed in the media.’
Despite being extremely convincing, this is an individual opinion of which can be proven difficult to persuade entire government decisions. For example, The first Bersih rally held in 2007 was no where near as successful compared to the previous campaigns mentioned. This is because the legacy media stopped anything from being posted about the rally as the government didn’t agree with it.
As Ted (2015) argues ‘participation is addictive’. Social media is considered a place to reflect what we believe and we well and truly believe this. The importance of the internet is that it gives the opportunity for each and every node to broadcast to mass audiences. The openness of this network gives those with a political opinion a platform to voice events or for those who can not broadcast messages critical of the government.
Overall, the use of social media hashtags and activism is used to raise awareness. Whether it be positive or negative the trending movements threaten legacy media in the way that they expose uncensored and personalised information.