Blogs and social media
Digital media can be seen as a continuation of this tradition, a way of reaching a large audience, mobilising new supporters to causes and political movements and acting as a platform for debate. With the Internet providing almost free access to these online platforms where commenting allows for fast-paced discussion, the opportunity to effect change through involvement in public social and political discourse is even further democratised.
This was seen in action in the Arab Spring uprisings of 2010-12, a series of pro-democracy uprisings that spread across largely Muslim countries in North Africa and the Middle East. Twitter and Facebook were critical in organising people on the streets to engage in demonstrations and informing the rest of the world as to what was happening – when the mainstream media in those countries was not accurately publicising the events. Similarly, the Occupy movement, a global movement that began in New York in 2011 protesting against austerity measures imposed in the wake of the financial crisis, relied on social media to publicise their actions and promote their ideals. This was one of the earliest large-scale political movements with an identity revolving around a single hashtag – #occupy – and went on to inspire the more recent #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo movements.
As with pamphlets, this kind of digital activism often bypasses the traditional world of political and social movements. Instead, they take advantage of new, affordable technologies to provide an alternative way of organising society.