Video available here.
The proliferation of social media has given rise to widespread study and speculation about the impact of digital technologies on politics, activism, and social change. Key among these debates is the role of social media in shaping the contemporary public sphere, and by proxy, our democracy. Maligned by some as “slacktivism,” it will be argued that social media platforms such as Twitter created unique opportunities for traditionally excluded voices to challenge the terms of public debate. Using the evidence from Twitter hashtag networks such as #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo, we will demonstrate how hashtag activism complemented other forms of activism and changed the terms of mainstream discussions about race and gender justice in the United States. We will also reflect on the continued capacity of social media for social change, in light of recent changes to Twitter and other platforms.
This talk draws on research from #HashtagActivism: Networks of Race and Gender Justice, available for free through MIT Press Direct: https://direct.mit.edu/books/book/4597/HashtagActivismNetworks-of-Race-and-Gender-Justice
Brooke Foucault Welles (she/her) is the Associate Dean for Research in the College of Arts, Media, and Design and Director of the Network Science Ph.D. Program at Northeastern University in Boston. Combining the methods of network science with theories from the social sciences, Welles studies influence and amplification in online communication networks, with particular emphasis on how these networks mitigate and exacerbate marginalization. Her work is interdisciplinary and collaborative, with co-authors from computer science, political science, digital humanities, design, and public health. She is the co-author of #HashtagActivism: Networks of Race and Gender Justice and co-editor of the Oxford Handbook of Networked Communication. For more information, see https://camd.northeastern.edu/faculty/brooke-foucault-welles/