The Pryor Times

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 | Photo Reprints
Community News Network
  • Why a see-through mouse is a big deal for scientists

    A group of Caltech researchers announced in Cell Thursday their success in making an entire organism transparent. Unfortunately, this isn't any kind of "Invisible Man" scenario: The organism in question is a mouse, and the mouse in question is quite dead.

    July 31, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-07-31 at 2.12.55 PM.png VIDEO: Five-year-old doesn't want her brother to grow up

    Sadie, an adorable 5-year-old from Phoenix, wants her brother to stay young forever, so much so that her emotional reaction to the thought of him getting older has drawn more than 10 million views on YouTube.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • lockport-police.jpg Police department turns to Facebook for guidance on use of 'negro'

    What seems to be a data entry mistake by a small town police department in western New York has turned into a social media firestorm centered around the word "negro" and whether it's acceptable to use in modern society.

    July 31, 2014 3 Photos

  • The virtues of lying

    Two computational scientists set out recently to simulate the effects of lying in a virtual human population. Their results, published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B, show that lying is essential for the growth of a cohesive social network.

    July 31, 2014

  • Sunburn isn't the only sign of summer that can leave you itchy and blistered

    You've got a rash. You quickly rule out the usual suspects: You haven't been gardening or hiking or even picnicking, so it's probably not a plant irritant such as poison ivy or wild parsnip; likewise, it's probably not chiggers or ticks carrying Lyme disease; and you haven't been swimming in a pond, which can harbor the parasite that causes swimmer's itch.

    July 30, 2014

  • Survey results in legislation to battle sexual assault on campus

    Missouri U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill joined a bipartisan group of senators Wednesday to announce legislation that aims to reduce the number of sexual assaults on college campuses.

    July 30, 2014

  • An alarming threat to airlines that no one's talking about

    It's been an abysmal year for the flying public. Planes have crashed in bad weather, disappeared over the Indian Ocean and tragically crossed paths with anti-aircraft missiles over Ukraine.

    July 30, 2014

  • Sharknado.jpg Sharknado 2 set to attack viewers tonight

    In the face of another "Sharknado" TV movie (the even-more-inane "Sharknado 2: The Second One," premiering Wednesday night on Syfy), there isn't much for a critic to say except to echo what the characters themselves so frequently scream when confronted by a great white shark spinning toward them in a funnel cloud:
    "LOOK OUT!!"

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • 20140729-AMX-GIVHAN292.jpg Spanx stretches into new territory with jeans, but promised magic is elusive

    The Spanx empire of stomach-flattening, thigh-slimming, jiggle-reducing foundation garments has expanded to include what the brand promises is the mother of all body-shaping miracles: Spanx jeans.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Medical marijuana opponents' most powerful argument is at odds with a mountain of research

    Opponents of marijuana legalization are rapidly losing the battle for hearts and minds. Simply put, the public understands that however you measure the consequences of marijuana use, the drug is significantly less harmful to users and society than tobacco or alcohol.

    July 29, 2014