Political Activism on Social Media & Its Pros and Cons

How have social media and activism influenced each other? What are the potential downsides to this phenomenon?

4 min readAug 7, 2020


Photo by Yanal Al Abed
Photo by Yanal Al Abed

By Kowei Tai


After the George Floyd incident on May 25th, reportedly millions of posts per day tagged with the hashtags #Blacklivesmatter, #BLM, and #GeorgeFloyd jammed into social media. People in the US and around the world show mourning, anger, calling for change, and organizing of activities in such posts. As the popularity of social media grows, these networks are not just a place to share daily lives, but a platform to discuss issues related to economy, environment, sociology, and, of course, politics. This leads us to a deeper discussion about political activism on social media.

Photo by Koshu Kunii on Unsplash

A discussion platform

Compared to traditional media, social media features the easiness to access — everyone can express their thoughts regardless of wealth, status, race and gender. Aside from the mainstream, diverse perspectives are published on such platforms. Its immediacy and convenience provide chances to exchange opinions and draw awareness of certain issues. The discussion online sometimes even give rise to substantial change in law and policy. The revision of epidemic prevention measures from the Taiwan government according to public reaction during the pandemic is a good example. Moreover, social media also contributes to the rise of social movements such as BLM, the anti-extradition bill protest in Hong Kong, and the sunflower student demonstration in Taiwan. Protests have evolved into a more horizontal form in terms of power relations, instead of the traditional, vertical link between the core group and the protesters. However, without a core group of people as spokesman of the movement, protesters’ voice may be prone to being diluted, given that there are all kinds of stakeholders involved and people’s objectives can differ.

The downsides

On the other side, whether these discussions work are still in question. Some describe the conversation on social media as inefficient because of the short, emotional texts and the lack of deep research and data. Some question its real impact and persistence. The algorithm and our friend community put us into the echo chamber, which, furthermore, causes polarization of political spectrum and ignorance of different voices. These are just the shallow parts. What’s really terrifying is the control of social media.

Photo from Business Insider

As social network grows its importance in politics, politicians, merchants, and scientists gradually found out the value of the enormous amount of data created by people’s activities on the internet. During the elections around the world in recent years, fake news and cyber warrior flooded into the social media, especially on chatrooms such as WhatsApp and Line since they’re more covert and harder to trace the source. Algorithms are designed to put ads to the possible buyers or voters precisely: the notorious Cambridge Analytica made use of this in the 2016 US presidential election and the Brexit referendum, making the world face up the data leak problem. Besides, although the major platforms are improving their policy on hate speech, what should be deleted is still a controversy, which leads to a bigger discussion about the power and responsibility of social media companies. The vague boundary of the freedom of speech not only appear in traditional media, but also on social platforms in a more disputable type.

No matter we’re optimistic or pessimistic about political activism on social media, it’s the trend of our society. What are the other bright/black sides of social media? What’s the responsibility of these platforms? How can we, as individuals, improve the situation? Leave a comment!

在5月25日的喬治·弗洛伊德(George Floyd)事件發生後,每天有數百萬個帶有#Blacklivesmatter,#BLM和#GeorgeFloyd標籤的標籤的貼文湧入社交媒體。美國和世界各地的人們表現出哀悼,憤怒,也訴求改變和組織活動。隨著社交媒體的普及,網路不僅是分享日常生活的地方,而且還是討論與經濟,環境,社會學,當然還有政治有關的問題的平台。這使我們對社交媒體上的政治行動主義進行了更深入的討論。


與傳統媒體相比,社交媒體更易於接觸 — 不論其財富,地位,種族和性別,每個人都可以表達自己的想法。除了主流視角之外,此類平台上還發布了各種觀點。它的直接性和便利性提供了交換意見和喚醒問題意識的機會。有時線上討論甚至會導致法律和政策發生重大變化。台灣政府在武漢肺炎期間,根據公眾反應修改防疫措施,就是一個很好的例子。此外,社交媒體還為社會運動的興起做出了貢獻,例如BLM、香港的反引渡法案抗議,以及台灣的太陽花學生示威遊行。在權力關係方面,抗議活動已演變為更橫向的形式,而不是核心團體和抗議者之間傳統的縱向聯繫。但是,如果沒有一個核心人物作為運動的發言者,抗議者的聲音可能會被削弱。因為涉及到各種各樣的利益相關者,而且人們的目標可能會有所不同。






This article is written by Kowei Tai, edited by Serena Chen & translated by Charlotte Lee. See original post here.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Mockingjay.




It’s a “safe haven” for all those who want to speak up, break their echo chambers.