Article: Online Activism & Civil Rights

This 2015 New York Times article follows online activists DeRay McKesson and Johnetta Elzie. They were innovators in utilizing the strengths of social media platforms to spread awareness of police violence against African Americans.

“Their innovation has been to marry the strengths of social media — the swift, morally blunt consensus that can be created by hashtags; the personal connection that a charismatic online persona can make with followers; the broad networks that allow for the easy distribution of documentary photos and videos — with an effort to quickly mobilize protests in each new city where a police shooting occurs.”

From 2014-2015 McKesson and Elzie travelled to cities such as Baltimore, New York, and South Carolina to initiate and broadcast protests against the shootings of Eric Garner, Walter Scott, and Freddie Gray- just to name a few.

“…the activists have linked [the victim’s] fates together in our minds, despite their separation by many weeks and thousands of miles.”


It is a long article, yet provides insight into a successful example of online activism. Although institutionalized racism remains an issue in society, the coverage of these shootings and the subsequent protests, specifically the footage McKesson and Elzie captured through vine and Facebook live, was a vital component of spreading awareness on this issue.



Study: social media bubbles might not be making us more polarized after all

I came across this article and found that it was pretty interesting and that it related nicely to the course. The main focus of the article is the recent US election and it examines people’s shock about Trump’s victory. It mainly talks about the idea of social media bubbles, which are often thought of as things that distance groups of people with opposing beliefs. However, this article claims that internet users are actually far less polarized than non-internet users, making social media bubbles less significant than originally believed. Overall, it this article helps to dismiss the notion that social media acts as an ‘echo chamber’ where people only see things that support their own beliefs and that much of political polarization exists outside of the internet.

VSCO isn’t playing Instagram’s game, but it’s still thriving

While browsing my way through the depths of the internet, I recently stumbled across this article that speaks about the difference between the VSCO and Instagram culture. While Instagram relies heavily on a like-based system, VSCO differentiates itself by never providing the opportunity to like or comment on photos. What I’ve noticed from my own personal experience is that some people have become obsessed with how the number of likes that their photos will receive, and will go to an extreme of not even posting them because they are not deemed “Instagram-worthy”. Thus by creating a system in which displays a social hierarchy based on the ‘like culture’ truly provides limitations as many users are becoming more carefully about the content that they decide to share.

60Minutes Episode on Fake News

This is the link to the recent 60 minutes segment on March 26 about fake news.  When I watched this on TV it made a realize how many people are not familiar with fake news and the concept around it.  While watching it, my family was very intrigued about the topic as they are not very familiar with it and they found it very interesting but also pretty shocking.  I think this segment gave a good description of what fake news is.  In the interview they talk about bots and the way they look like real accounts retweeting to encourage actual people to retweet and start spreading the fake news.  They talked about how the fake stories are created and how the stories have to be outrageous enough for people to want to click on them but still believable that it is news.  Fake news is such an interesting topic as it continues to grow.  It really makes everything online questionable about its authenticity.

How to recognize (and fight) social media stress.

How to recognize (and fight) social media stress

I came across this article that was published today about social media users experiencing stress when using social media platforms. I find the topic of social media stress to be interesting because it has always baffled me on how one could experience stress using social media. I myself do not experience “stress” when using these platforms and I have always wondered how some people do. I ask myself, What is there to stress about? Not enough likes? Not enough comments? Will people like the posts? These are some questions I predict those who suffer from social media stress, are asking.

In her article, Melissa Gilligan interviews Psychologist Brent MacDonald and discusses the topic of social media stress. Brent tells us that using social media has become so automatic in our life that we don’t recognize how much time it consumes out of our day. He identifies two main impacts social media has on people, the first being how much time it take away from doing  other activities and second being how much weight we put on.

Brent moves on the state some key signs of social media stress:

“If it’s affecting our work, if it’s affecting our self-esteem, if it’s affecting our self-worth – then I think we have to be really cautious.” 

“What the research is starting to show … is that people with lower self-esteem tend to put more weight on the postings that they put forward.”

At the end of the article Brent offers some tolls in solving social media stress. He encourages people who are stressed to limit their daily use and enable notification restrictions on their devices.

“With Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram – those types of things – you’re constantly getting these notifications,” he explained. “Maybe put some boundaries around checking once or twice a day as opposed to constantly checking.”

Self-Regulation – Facebook

Chapter seven discusses the power of Facebook, the role of surveillance and the implications for privacy. As a vast majority of us have Facebook accounts upon other social media applications, this chapter further allows for us to realize the power of the internet. I would like to direct attention to the ‘Self-Regulation’ section on page 165. This section explains how Facebook, for the most part is able to regulate itself in what it does with user’s data, which they essentially use solely to maximize their profits. Fuchs elaborates how the US data protection laws only cover the government databanks thus leaving commercial surveillance untouched. At the end of this section Joseph Turrow explains how the privacy policies of commercial internet companies are “often complex, written in turgid legalese, but formulated in a polite way” assuring us that they care about our privacy however spread out over a lengthy policy discretely explain how your personal data will be given to “affiliates”. As Users, the majority of us turn a blind eye to these terms and press accept, unleashing our personal data for free to these websites such as Facebook for them to use for personal profits. Next time Facebook asks you to accept terms and conditions, give it a thorough read through and it is actually very interesting.

Cyber Bullying Warning over App

I came across this article that was published today, warning the parents and teachers of teenagers in Ireland about a new app that is becoming popular amongst the generation called, SimiSimi App. This app is simply an “artificial intelligence robot which collects user comments on subjects and generates responses based on these comments when questions are posed to it”. Many people, especially the teenagers using it are becoming aware of the negative aspects this app creates. The users feel a source of protection through the fact that what they post is anonymous. There have already been many reports through the use of the iTunes app, and although the popularity of using this app is rising many people believe that “teenagers do not need an app like this where anonymous bullying can take place. Is all the money the creator is making really worth the mental illness that this app could cause”? It still remains as the top downloaded app in Ireland today, but many parents, as well as teachers are taking extra precaution and watching over their children while using it to reduce the act of cyber bullying. simsimi.jpg