I have never been political on this blog. I have separate outlets for that. But after what happened in Charlottesville, VA this weekend, it might be worth taking a look at the role that Social Media plays in political activism. On both sides.
This weekend the Alt Right came out from behind their computers. The result has been a horrifying death, several injuries, and far reaching Social Media posts that have helped the police, companies, and also have ruined some lives.
Social Media can be more than just receiving updates on your particular political point of view. The Alt Right has effectively used Social Media channels to grow their numbers for years. Liberal activism has been new to Social Media usage as a way to spread the word and organize, but they caught on fast.
Facebook, Twitter, Reddit and 4chan have been very effective for activism and it may be something you’re not aware of.
The Alt Right has used mostly Reddit and 4chan to run below the radar of the masses. Some of you may not even know that 4chan exists. Mostly used in Asia and Europe, 4chan is as large and popular as Facebook and the fact that US users have not embraced it much, has allowed fringe groups to thrive there without any deterrants. Twitter also has been useful for these groups. It’s where they post ideas, manifestos, meet ups and where they recruit. They recruit so heavily, one might say they are no longer the fringe of our society.
These Social Media platforms have been used by the Alt Right for inciting violence as well. Ask anyone who works in abortion clinics. It’s how they research, find and post addresses for doctors to be targetted.
This weekend in Charlottesville, VA, they came out from behind their computers and marched. They carried torches at night and rallied by day. One follower drove a car through anti-racism protestors, injuring dozens and killing a young woman.
And the tables turned against them. Anti-racism protesters took a page from the Alt Right. The white supremacists, nazi’s and racists were photographed by the news organizations and by those on the ground. Their photos were posted on Twitter and Facebook. “Do you know this person? Do you know their employer? Identify them!”
And they were identified. The police were aided in catching the murderer behind the wheel and he’s looking at several charges against him. At least one white supremacist was identified, their employer notified and they were promptly fired. Others embarrassed to be outed so publicly.
Social media doesn’t know right from wrong. Social media isn’t political. The people who use it are. Just as the Alt Right can swing into deadly darkness by identifying and inciting violence for abortion workers, so can the Left. Many Alt Right ralliers have been identified and are receiving death threats, as their identities, addresses, family members and employers are being shared across many platforms.
Public outcry on Social Media has been so strong that like Germany banning the swastika and nazi salute, states are now banning the confederate flag.
Social Media political activism has come home to roost in America. We’ve seen the good and bad for years now, most notably with the Syrian Spring. Good or bad, your politics are now public and so are the repercussions of it.
While Social Media can be used for good, as in identifying criminals, it can also be used for evil. Watch where it’s going. Be aware. For yourself, for others and for your country.