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Activism and Social Media

In the social media space, activist thought leaders, with relatively few followers, wield tremendous power.  Online activism increasingly drives consumer choice, forces industry compliance with demands, and influences regulatory agencies.  It also plays a role in large scale social movements.

#1 Online activists vs. Kraft foods:

A case of social media hijacking by Shari R.Veil, Jenna Reno, Rebecca Freihaut, Jordan Oldham
This study examines a case in which activists used a corporation's social media page to disseminate activist campaign messages. Specifically, it examines how a blogger–activist took advantage of an online hoax regarding a warning label for Kraft Macaroni and Cheese to spur others into hijacking Kraft's Facebook page. While the hoax was quickly exposed, the reputation damage was done and within 6 months Kraft announced it was changing the ingredients in some products.

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#2 Social Media Activists:

Analyzing the Relationship between Online Activism and Offline Attitudes and Behaviors by Aaron Noland
Token support for social causes has been increasingly studied and commented on in recent years. Campaigns such as the Livestrong bracelet, the pink breast cancer ribbons, the KONY 2012 video, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, and the Facebook profile picture modifications for marriage equality and support for Paris after the 2015 terrorist attacks have been coined “slacktivism” and those who engage in these activities “slacktivists,” however, little empirical research has been done on the topic. This research explores the relationship so-called slacktivism, operationalized as various social media activities, has on social capital, cosmopolitan attitudes, and other forms of social cause engagement activities. The results suggest that the effects on social capital and cosmopolitanism are not significant. However, the strong relationship between slacktivism and other, “traditional,” forms of activism suggest that “slacktivist” may be an ill-fitting name for individuals engaged in this social cause engagement.

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#3 Online Activism for Women’s Rights

by Jo Sutton, Scarlet Pollock
Activists working online have recognized the potential of the Internet as a force for social change. Women are using the technology as a form of empowerment, by creating women's venues, resources, and networks for organizing.

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#4 Age and Online Social Media Behavior

in Prediction of Social Activism Orientation
by Sandra Yankah, Katharine S. Adams, Lee Grimes, Anne Price

The purpose of this study was to describe the largely unexplored relationship between chronological age, displays of activism on social networking sites, and differences in orientation toward engaging in future social activism.

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#5 The Contribution of Facebook to the 2011 Tunisian Revolution:

A Cyberpsychological Insight by
Yousri Marzouki, Inès Skandrani-Marzouki, Moez Béjaoui, Haythem Hammoudi, and Tarek Bellaj
Recently, the communication of information has been vital to the success of the Tunisian revolution, and Facebook was its main “catalyst.”

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#6 Discussing Occupy Wall Street on Twitter:

Longitudinal Network Analysis of Equality, Emotion, and Stability of Public Discussion by
Cheng-Jun Wang, Pian-Pian Wang, and Jonathan J.H. Zhu
To evaluate the quality of public discussion about social movements on Twitter and to understand the structural features and evolution of longitudinal discussion networks, we analyze tweets about the Occupy Wall Street movement posted over the course of 16 days by investigating the relationship between inequality, emotion, and the stability of online discussion.

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#7 Connecting Corporate and Consumer Social Responsibility

Through Social Media Activism by Constance E. Kampf
To highlight aspects of activism obscured by a focus on legitimacy and ideology, this article argues that shifting focus from legitimacy and ideology to identity, problem-solving and dialogue is needed to understand emerging forms of social media native activism that connects consumer social responsibility (CnSR) and corporate social responsibility (CSR).

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#8 Introduction to Social Media, Activism, and Organizations

by Dhirage Murthy
Social media have become increasingly pervasive. However, the literature on social movements and social media has not fully grasped just how much social media have fundamentally changed the landscape of organizational communication, ranging from stakeholders being able to directly mobilize resources to making grassroots transnational social movements more organizationally feasible.

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#9 A Game Theoretical Approach to Hacktivism:

Is Attack Likelihood a Product of Risks and Payoffs?
by Jessica E. Bodford, Virginia S.Y. Kwan
The current study examines hacktivism (i.e., hacking to convey a moral, ethical, or social justice message) through a general game theoretic framework—that is, as a product of costs and benefits. Given the inherent risk of carrying out a hacktivist attack (e.g., legal action, imprisonment), it would be rational for the user to weigh these risks against perceived benefits of carrying out the attack.

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#10 Social Media and Informal Organisation of Citizen Activism:

Lessons From the Use of Facebook in the Sunflower Movement
by Panayiota Tsatsou
This paper presents an interview study of the role of Facebook in the informal organisation of the Sunflower Movement in Taiwan. The study found that participants in the Sunflower Movement engaged more with Facebook’s information-spreading and information-sharing functions than with its networking affordances. They used these functions to enhance the public’s engagement with the movement and recruit new participants, as well as to initiate, support and coordinate offline action.

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#11 Did the Tea Party Movement Fuel the Trump-Train?

The Role of Social Media in Activist Persistence and Political Change in the 21st Century by Deana A. Rohlinger, Leslie Bunnage
We find that social media helped politically like-minded people locate one another and cultivate political communities that likely sustained activist commitment to changing the Republican Party over time.

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#12 Hashtagging Politics:

Transnational Anti-Fracking Movement Twitter Practices
by Jill E. Hopke
Findings show that Global Frackdown tweeters engage in framing practices of movement convergence and solidarity, declarative and targeted engagement, prefabricated messaging, and multilingual tweeting. In contrast to Global Frackdown tweeters’ use of the platform for in-the-moment communication, Global Frackdown activists report in in-depth interviews that they place more emphasis on private (i.e., listservs) communication channels for longer term, durable movement building. The episodic, crowdsourced, and often personalized, transnational framing practices of Global Frackdown tweeters support core organizers’ goal of promoting the globalness of activism to ban fracking.

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