[-empyre-] Part 2: Social Media Use across Campaigns for Social Justice

mrahul at sas.upenn.edu mrahul at sas.upenn.edu
Thu Dec 11 02:11:03 EST 2014


Twitter seems to have currency among urban, middle-class, and  
English-using circulators but it is yet to bridge the urban-rural  
divide in India. Facebook worked better for translocal/transnational  
collaborations among the anti-nuke activist teams from Koodankulam,  
Chennai, Delhi, and from Japan and Germany. Some anti-nuclear  
activists are aware of the existence of Twitter Trends and News Feed  
algorithms and have received offers to buy services from social media  
and crowdsourcing companies in order to increase visibility of their  
blogs and campaigns. One organizer acknowledged that the  
?me-centricity? of the Facebook interface for ordinary users was a  
limitation. Other than financial constraints and the me-centricity of  
certain social media platforms, these activists emphasize that they  
are not city-based NGOs working on urban issues that have social media  
led PR campaigns. The anti-nuclear issue is not particularly an urban  
issue and thus does not have similar resonance on Twitter, which is  
populated by urban users. Thus, one activist reasoned, conversations  
about rural issues do not endure on Twitter: momentous spikes are  
possible, steady circulation is difficult. Based on discourses of  
nuclear nationalism and energy security, being anti-nuclear in India  
is sometimes considered anti-national, and hence some activists,  
fearing governmental surveillance, prefer to work anonymously on  
social media.

To move to my last vignette. Online advocacy websites in Web 1.0 and  
Web 2.0 versions have been constructed since the nineties demanding  
compensation for the survivors of the Bhopal gas disaster of 1984.  
This very month, a form of disaster commemoration emerged. On Dec 3,  
2014, 30 years since the tragedy, a Twitter handle (@1984Bhopal) began  
live-tweeting the gas disaster as if it was unfolding in the present.  
The tweets were based on stories of survivors. Social media as  
emergent archive might make a contribution to social justice

- rahul

Rahul Mukherjee
Assistant Professor, Television and New Media Studies
Cinema Studies Program, Department of English
University of Pennsylvania

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