The Washington Times-Herald

Community News Network

May 9, 2014

Is hashtag activism better than doing nothing? Or about the same?

(Continued)

#StandwithPP

It wasn't until 2012, however, that "hashtag activism" congealed in a major way around an actionable, concrete cause. On a Tuesday in January, the Susan G. Komen Foundation, which annually contributed $680,000 to Planned Parenthood for breast exams and mammograms, announced its plans to cut that funding off. The decision was largely political, which outraged Planned Parenthood supporters. By Friday of that week, more than 100,000 people had tweeted hashtags like #singon and #standwithpp — and Komen had restored funding.

"I absolutely believe the exposure on Facebook and Twitter really drove a lot of coverage by mainstream media," Planned Parenthood's president, Cecile Richards told the Los Angeles Times. "I've never seen anything catch fire [like that.]"

Richards had a point. While activist hashtags like #ows had trended before, rarely had a hashtag been aimed at such a specific policy — something that could, with enough awareness, be easily reversed by a handful of people.

It also helped that many of the #standwithpp activists were stakeholders in the conflict: women who used Planned Parenthood, or women's health services more generally, used Twitter as a platform to speak up for their causes.

#Kony2012

That was a major, immediate failing for #Kony2012, which trended only weeks after #standwithpp. Sparked by a documentary of the same name on Ugandan military leader and indicted war criminal Joseph Kony, and fueled by tweets from celebrities such as Rihanna, Stephen Fry and Nicole Richie, #Kony2012 earned nearly 2.4 million tweets in March 2012 . . . but failed to articulate any specific demands, besides the self-evident "stop Kony." Worse, the documentary (and the hashtag) were organized by do-gooder Americans, not Ugandans.

They may have meant well, but the meddling, imperialist overtones of #Kony2012 would forever haunt the hashtag. Kony, critics pointed out, had been accused of abducting child soldiers since the '90s. But millions of Americans noticed only when it became trendy to do so and when it was other Americans advancing the issue. Two days after the documentary "Kony 2012" premiered, the first (and to date, only) definition of hashtag activism appeared on Urban Dictionary, beginning: "The kind of activism undertaken when you "do something" about a problem by tweeting or posting links to Facebook, without any intent of ever actually doing something. "

Text Only
Community News Network
  • cleaning supplies Don't judge mothers with messy homes

    I was building shelves in my garage when a neighbor girl, one of my 4-year-old daughter's friends, approached me and said, "I just saw in your house. It's pretty dirty. Norah's mommy needs to clean more."

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • taylor.armerding.jpg Inequality crisis shot with factual problems, hypocrisy

    President Obama, various media and political liberals say inequality, of all things, is the defining issue of our times. Yet this message is delivered by multimillionaires and a president who jets from tee time to stump speech on the taxpayer's dime.
     

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • How spy agencies keep their 'toys' from law enforcement

    A little over a decade ago, federal prosecutors used keystroke logging software to steal the encryption password of an alleged New Jersey mobster, Nicodemo Scarfo Jr., so they could get evidence from his computer to be used at his trial.

    July 25, 2014

  • Russia's war on McDonald's takes aim at the Filet-o-Fish

    Russia said earlier this week that it had no intention of answering Western sanctions by making it harder for Western companies to conduct business in Russia.
    But all bets are off, apparently, when you threaten the Russian waistline.

    July 25, 2014

  • Has the iPad lost its swag?

    July 24, 2014

  • Facebook continues moneymaking trend

    Facebook seems to have figured out - for now at least - the holy grail for all media right now: how to make money selling mobile ads.

    July 24, 2014

  • Lindley, Tom.jpg Better police needed for college teams enticed to cheat

    The NCAA once cracked down on colleges that went too far luring top prospects, then it targeted teams that lathered players with special treatment. That was until the NCAA's get-tough approach backfired, rendering it ineffective and creating an opportunity for those who want to play dirty.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Police Brutality screen shot. Technology plays key part in battling police brutality (VIDEO)

    Allegations of police brutality are nothing new -- as long as there has been law enforcement, citizens have registered claims that some officers cross the line. But in the last few years, the claims of excessive force are being corroborated with new technology from cell phone cameras, police dash-cams and surveillance videos. 

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Arizona's prolonged lethal injection is fourth in U.S. this year

    Arizona's execution of double-murderer Joseph Wood marked the fourth time this year that a state failed to dispatch a convict efficiently, according to the Constitution Project, a bipartisan legal group.3

    July 24, 2014

  • Almost half of America's obese youth don't know they're obese

    The good news is that after decades of furious growth, obesity rates finally seem to be leveling off in the U.S.. The bad news is that America's youth still appear to be dangerously unaware of the problem.

    July 23, 2014