Bringing to mind the youth protests of the 1960’s and 1970’s, the current New York City based movement known as Occupy Wall Street has the 21st century advantage of a technologically reliant public.
Influence of Twitter and Social Media
The Occupy Wall Street movement was actually orchestrated through the social media website Twitter. As of November 1st, 2011, Occupy Wall Street has over 100,000 followers of its Twitter account. They use this exposure by uploading links to various news articles and videos to share with the public. This rapid delivery of information has allowed for the quick growth the Occupy movement has seen.
Social media has served as the fuel to turn this one-city protest into something that has expanded everywhere. For instance, when a video is released that shows an outrageous act by police against a protester, Occupy Wall Street can quickly release this to its many followers. This serves as a tool to rally their cause among the masses and allows for the Occupy movement to grow across the world. This infographic on the Occupy Wall Street movement gives a background of the protestors and the important influence of social media.
Similarly, Occupy Wall Street can share news articles with its followers that highlight the outrageous disparity between the wealthiest top 1 percent of the country with the rest of America. Occupy followers on Twitter have all of this information being posted to them on almost a daily basis. This allows Occupy Wall Street to distribute a large amount of information to a large number of people with relative ease.
The Revolution Will Be Streamed Live
During the major and minor moments of the protest, live-streamed videos allow the public to see exactly what is happening on the streets. The protests bring out many different opinions and it can be difficult for the general public to form an opinion without feeling forced by controlled media. A live-stream of the protests gives an unbiased look into the issues and actions of both the protesters and the response by the government and police force.
Live videos also help the protesters publicize their efforts and inform people of their demands. New Yorkers, Americans and concerned citizens are more inclined to participate in the protests after watching a protest march live from their living room. Whether this participation is through donations or visiting the sites of the protests, volunteers are always needed at the Occupy Wall Street movement and live videos could inspire people that would otherwise think the protest is a waste of time.
The Arab Spring Roots of Social Media Protests
The roots of using social media to promote protests reaches back all the way to earlier this year, when the Egyptian youth protested Hosni Mubarak, then Egypt’s reigning autocrat, primarily via Twitter. Their fight, and subsequent success, spread like wildfire throughout the Arab world, leading to protests in Yemen, Libya, Tunisia, Bahrain, Syria, Algeria, Iraq, and about a dozen other Middle Eastern states. The idea that Twitter could be used to create a conversation about a state of political affairs, and that it was not under the thumb of a dictator, like a country’s mass media, inspired protests from youth across the Arab world, and then, six months later, across America, to take up their own Twitter protest in the form of Occupy Wall Street.
Never before in history have the tools been available to allow for such efficient exchange of information. It can be said that without the social media juggernaut Twitter, the Occupy Wall Street movement may have never started, much less have grown to the worldwide phenomenon that it is today.