Social media movements should not be selective but benefit all victims

Social media movements should not be selective but benefit all victims says the writer.
Social media movements should not be selective but benefit all victims says the writer.
Image: CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP

Social media sites have emerged as a key venue for political debate and at times a place to engage in social-related activities.

One of the most prominent examples is the role social media played in the emergence of #BlackLivesMatter and the #MeToo movement aimed at raising awareness around gender-based violence.   

Recently we have seen thousands of testimonies that South African women shared online that have powerfully exposed the prevalence of gender-based violence in the country. These testimonies confirmed the need for our government to ensure that there are legal remedies in place to protect the women.      

Back in 2010, we saw a series of protests, and armed rebellions in Tunisia, which spread quickly across the Middle East, targeted at oppressive regimes and low standards of living.

Dubbed the Arab Spring, these protests are now noted for young activists who took to the streets, using social media during the uprisings to organise and create awareness around civil issues. The use of social media in this context is reinforcing the importance and the relevance of online activism and the role of influencers today.  

We should take some lessons from the Arab Spring and start to discuss the use of social media in these events and their effects on the internal populations of the involved countries, as well as the global awareness that social media activism created through sharing of posts and information. 

While this is important, those who claim to have numbers on these platforms should not be discerning in how they share information or tell sensitive stories of any nature using hashtags.    

Influencers are assumed to be so appealing because they are similar to their audiences but we have not seen them using their power to its full potential to assist even the victims who are not known in their communities because of their lopsided approach.  

As we have seen with movements like #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo, social media has the potential to create online spaces where people come together and find support, but the approaches that are used on these platforms should benefit all the victims.

Hlangani is a technology consultant and a tech journalist based in Johannesburg. 

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