The images of three-year-old Aylan Kurdi, the Syrian toddler who drowned while his family were trying to reach the Greek island of Kos sent shock waves around the world and inspired a collective call to action. Immediately, advocacy groups took to social media to generate awareness and support for the plight of asylum seekers. Subsequently, the hashtag #refugeeswelcome circulated on social media together with a number of online petitions that urged world leaders to adopt a more humane policy towards asylum seekers (Getup 2015; Rajan 2015). This is an example of how a powerful image or post on Facebook can mobilise hundreds and thousands of people to act collectively to pressure governments to influence change. This report will explore whether Facebook is an effective tool for creating social and political change by analysing a number of key events and features. To begin, it will explore the changes to the media landscape as a result of social media. Secondly, it will discuss the effect of viral sharing. Additionally, it will analyse the viral social media campaign Kony 2012, and the role of Facebook in the 2011 Egyptian Revolution and the Occupy Wall Street movement, and the increase in online political participation and online petitions.
Social media networks such as Facebook, have changed the way people participate in the information process; gathering, circulating and creating information in real time. Although there have been a number of significant changes to the information and communication landscape, two of the most revolutionary change...
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...online petitions termed, ‘global group petitions’ (GGPs), by transnational movement networks to collectively communicate their requests which are termed ‘joint statements’ by activists. However, the study observes that whilst GGPs are not typically associated with a movement network, they can be used as an effective method to increase momentum for a cause and developing communication between potential supporters. Moreover, the findings indicate that online petitions can assist advocacy groups to establish and maintain global networks. The author notes that GGPs are a particular form of activism that have not received much attention from researchers involved in the Social Sciences. Further, it is argued that the importance of GGPs should not be overlooked in the age of online media and should be viewed as a critical feature of global politics (Strange 2011 p. 1250).
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