Activists have turned to social media as a way to get people involved in their campaigns. Critics say that the ‘slacktivism’ or ‘clicktivism’ is nothing more than a cheap way to make a person feel like she did something while not doing anything. Proponents say that every little bit helps and there is value in creating awareness as people share information with their social networks.
The popularity of the Kony 2012 video and its ensuing backlash brought the debate to center stage two years ago. Some charities are pushing back on the trend. UNICEF Sweden released a series of videos that shunned Facebook likes and asked for cash donations
So, who is right?
Two new pieces of research shed a bit of light on the answer. Those who sit firmly in pro and against slacktivism camps will be disappointed. Both sides are right and wrong.
Using social media for activism can make a difference, but it matters most to the people who are already interested in an issue. It is not terribly hard to get people to participate by liking a Facebook page or sending out a Tweet. The challenge is converting bystanders into engaged activists.