The appearance of social media totally changes our life. We can watch videos, communicate with others or grasp the latest news through it. However, even entertainment is one of the labels that some people always stick on for social media, some other people use social media to achieve their political goals.
First of all, as we all know the majority who spends lots of time on social media is youth, so when someone wants to attract people’s attention, selecting youth as his or her main target seems like a wise choice. Therefore, an activist group or protest movement always has a goal to make youth supports its propositions.
The second goal an activist group or protest movement can achieve by using social media is to obtain others support, which always equals “likes” it received online. As the Asch Experiment shows that, people always influenced by the majority. That is to say, the more “like” a group get, the more chance that an activist group or protest movement has to be supported by the next people, which is a virtuous circle.
What’s more, for activists, documenting and circulating video and images that demonstrate regime violence can help recruit new members to collective action efforts (Youmans & York, 2012, p. 320). By using social media, an activist group or protest movement have more method, including video and image, to propagandize its ideology. And these vivid forms always can be more persuasive than words.
Last but not least, the participatory and outspoken nature of social media could make the use of these sites more consistent with the spirit of emancipation and disrespect for traditional authority that characterizes postmaterialism (Valenzuela, Arriagada and Sherman, 2012, p. 311). Thus making people free their mind is also important for activists, just as an old Chinese saying, teaching one to fish is better than give him fish.
Dreams are always sweet while reality sometimes not. Governments, official departments, even the social media itself can block what people post on social media. Sometimes one’s post on social media blocked because some key words censored by self-censorship of website. However, in the most case it happens because governors don’t like activists’ voice. To isolate these voice, they may block the connection to social media while sometimes they stop the Internet access directly.
As an old saying, while the priest climbs a post, the devil climbs ten. Some activists succeeded in using proxies to circumvent censorship (Youmans & York, 2012, p. 322). Some others select easier ways. For example, in China, we always use nicknames rather than full name of leaders online because their full name sometimes will regard as sensitive words and therefore be blocked. Moreover, because activism does not confine itself to separate online and offline spheres, but instead online interactions can aid offline forms of citizen participation (Valenzuela, Arriagada and Sherman, 2012, p. 311), thus face-to-face interaction is more powerful than online activities especially when the latter one is blocked.