Eliza Fitzgerald – Social Media Used for Social Justice

Social media has been the victim of harsh criticism lately, accused of being pointless and only being used for silly posts and wasting time. Although some people may use social media that way, these days it is an extremely effective tool for creating social change, as well as social justice.

Websites, especially Facebook, are extremely popular with over 1,000,000,000 people actively using it. With this amount of people using it, news, trends and challenges spread quickly. In 2015, when gay rights was a large topic in American politics, Facebook users were able to put a filter on their profile picture of the coloured lines associated with gay rights. This showed how supportive the people were of this topic and raised awareness for gender equality. Similarly, when Paris was the victim of terrorist attacks late last year, the French flag was an available filter for profile pictures, to display their support to the suffering country.

Another example of this is the ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) ice bucket challenge, which took the internet by storm in 2014. ALS is a disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. When pouring ice cold water on yourself, your body experiences what it feels like to have ALS (numbness, muscle cramps/twitches). Millions of people worldwide took action immediately and recorded themselves doing the challenge, uploading it to the internet and donating money to the organisation. This challenge was so popular, that it raised approx. 92 million dollars in just one month. Without the contribution of social media, this trend would not have become as wildly popular as it was, and not as much money and awareness would have been raised.

Living in the 21st century, social media is quite obviously a huge part of our society. It is much more than just likes and funny videos, it is a tool used for social change and social justice and raising awareness for different issues from all around the world.

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