Are you one of the more than 3.419 millions of people that have internet access? If yes, are you one of the 2.307 millions of people who use social media regularly? This are some of the questions you may answer yourself after reading the statement made by La Rosa (2014), “the Internet has a multilevel impact on the everyday life of the humankind”, and we see this reflected in the survey made by We Are Social.
Additionally, he focuses on how this social media impacts the way social movements are rooted and furthered developed. From his ideas, we can consider social media as an essential tool for social movements, which has already been stated by ciber manifestants, as we appreciate in the picture below (taken from one protest during the Arab Spring).
Apart from the Arab Spring, we are also presented different cases such as the Spanish movement ‘15M’ and the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, in which all, social media played a huge and crucial role. More in depth, 15-M was also know as the ‘Movimiento de los Indignados’, in which people undertook pacific protests with the intention to promote a more participative democracy, far from the historic political bipartidism from PSOE and PP (the two big historic political parties in Spain), and to improve the democratic system. This movement was mainly organized through social media, and in the following video we can see all the interaction between users in the timeline of the movement.
This large amount of interactions were able to happen due to its very low cost, as social media can be accessed easily from a smartphone, a computer or any technological devices. Moreover, this could be explained by the three characteristics Cohen (1998) awards to social movements: “capacity to rapid mobilization, vision of an alternative and better existence, and the use of unorthodox strategies to attract public support and confront institutions.”
In the case of 15-M, after 5 days of camping the Facebook page of ‘Democracia Real YA!’ had more than 180.000 followers and more than 29.000 followers on Twitter, with the huge interaction of hashtags such as #nolesvotes or #spanishrevolution, engaging more and more people everyday. What’s more, celebrities also joined (image in the left) which also made the movement spread more and more, and used this and other symbolic resources, as La Rosa (2014) classifies the use of hashtags to motivate action.
Lastly, to conclude, we have to notice that the #spanishrevolution did not just have an impact on Spain, but on other countries such as Redondo (2012) pointed out on an article he wrote for the Spanish newspaper. Also, programmes such as El Objetivo (La Sexta), shared videos from international mass media broadcasting this movement in their countries located in the rest of Europe and South America, for example, and developing other pacific protests in Washington, New York, Roma, Berlin, Atenas, etc… (http://www.lasexta.com/programas/el-objetivo/el-impacto-internacional-del-15m_20160514573740cd4beb2895a65e7327.html).
For further knowledge on this social movement, I recommend this documental called ‘Claves para entender el movimiento 15-M. Keys to understand 15-M’, which also incorporates english subtitles:
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- La Rosa, A. (2014). ‘Social Media and Social Movements Around the World: Lessons and Theoretical Approaches’ in: Patrut, B. & Patrut, M. (eds.) Social Media in Politics, Springer, pp. 35-47.
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- Redondo, J (2012). Efectos y defectos del 15-M. El Mundo. Retrieved 16 February 2017, from http://www.elmundo.es/elmundo/2012/05/14/espana/1337009605.html.
- Sádaba, I. (2012). Acción colectiva y movimientos sociales en las redes digitales. Aspectos históricos y metodológicos ARBOR, Ciencia, Pensamiento y cultura, 188(756), 781–794.