DIGC202

The Power of #hashtags

When it comes to social media, Twitter is in a category of its own.  It’s succinct, public, instant and able to connect people around the world through hashtags, which group tweets depending on their focus.  These groups can form around anything and everything imaginable – celebrities, sports and popular culture, for example.

This hashtag system has also been used to spark, sustain and quell revolutions.  The screen is the new street, only banners and warcrys are accompanied by or replaced with 140 characters and caps lock.  In November 2013, for example, following mounting civil unrest in Ukraine, protests broke out in the country’s Independence Square as individuals rallied behind former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, accusing the current prime minister Viktor Yanukovych of corruption.  The hashtags #maidan and #euromaidan – in reference to Europe, and Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Ukrainian for Independence Square) documented the rallies alongside an official Euromaidan Twitter account.

The success of this campaign was so great that Yanukovych’s government fled the country in February 2014 – a mere 4 months after protests began.  The protest’s strong Twitter presence amplified and accelerated the process, and others around the world could quickly learn about the rallies from people who were involved.

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With online protests such as #GamerGate becoming commonplace, I can see a future that truly utilises this method of protest.  I’m sure many young adult dystopian revolutions could benefit from having a Twitter account, and maybe help wrap up the movies in one part, rather than two.

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