Tag Archives: protests

Limbaugh’s Social Media Problem

Rush Limbaugh is experiencing an advertiser exodus, and social media is playing a big part.

It’s the kind of story that writes itself. A popular media entity, on one of the oldest forms of electronic mass media, bears the brunt of activists’ Facebook wrath. It combines two old rivalries: liberals and conservatives and new media versus old media. In case you missed it, here’s the brief synopsis of events from ABC news:

Rush Limbaugh remains in big trouble. Advertisers – 11 at last count – are pulling spots off his radio talk show because of the reaction to his calling Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute.” Opponents are mobilizing on social media for a long campaign to try to convince even more sponsors to drop his program. Ms. Fluke herself has rejected as insufficient Mr. Limbaugh’s attempts at apology

Fluke had testified before congress about the importance of “the pill” for medical uses beyond birth control. Rush concluded that she was having so much sex that she needed the American tax payer to help defer the cost of her contraceptives. (This has led to some speculation that conservatives don’t know how hormonal birth control works.) Thousands of people are organizing to get advertisers to pull their money out of Rush Limbaugh’s show, and many of them are organizing via Twitter and Facebook. Will we be subjected to another round of technologically deterministic news stories about “cyber revolution,” or are we going to have a more nuanced conversation? More precisely, does Rush have a social media problem or has he -all things being equal- just gone too far this time? (more…)

#OWS and the Formation of Rhizomatic Associations

Zuccotti Park before a march

Last week I went down to Zuccotti Park out of an overwhelming desire to be a part of something intensely important. One of my professors  compared the occupation of Wall Street to People’s Park in Berkley, California. He also sees strong connections to the ongoing hacktivist activities in Spain. OccupyWallst.org draws their tactics explicitly form the Arab Spring. I have waited so long to write something about my own experiences because, frankly, it almost feels too personal. So, if you’ll indulge me, this post is going to be a little different from the ones I’ve written in the past.

While the major news outlets try desperately to shoehorn OWS into existing frames, smaller outlets have provided excellent commentary and insight. Jenny Davis was the first on this blog to write about the movement’s use of social media. Since her insightful post, social media has proven to be an effective tool in revealing police brutality and even possible entrapment by the NYPD. The various Twitter backchannels have been instrumental in organizing and publicizing the organization – as well as the results- of major protests. Nathan has also done an excellent job of discussing the relationship of online and offline action. And yesterday’s post by Sarah Wanenchak describes exactly my feelings on the confluence of various forms of technology. There truly is no easy way to describe the feeling you get when you hear the people’s mic for the first time. It is a little difficult to master, but a truly powerful tool.

Having participated in (more…)

#Occupywallstreet: Social Media as a Strategic Frame

On September 17th, Wall Street was occupied. It was occupied by the bodies of about 500 protesters. The protests, aimed at the unjust hierarchical distribution of resources, were explicitly modeled after the Arab Spring, utilizing social media and a “leaderless” structure to organize a democratic revolution. Unlike the reality of the Arab Spring, however, protesters were asked to remain peaceful as they occupy downtown Manhattan for months to come. They aim to swell their numbers up to 20,000 or more.

What I find interesting about this, is the strategic emphasis on spontaneity, the romanticizing of the grass roots element, and framing, by organizers, of this event as something of a “social media” revolution. This is interesting because these protests are highly organized–not spontaneous. Organizers even went through a “practice run” before the day of the main event. Moreover, the protests do not stem from a small group of renegade revolutionaries, but are linked to established organizations–especially Adbusters, who launched the call for this protest months in advance. 

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Cyborgology Editors Talk Social Media in the Middle East

Maryland Morning host Sheilah Kast interviewed Cyborgology editors Nathan Jurgenson and PJ Rey about social media’s role in the recent protests in the Middle East.  Here’s a brief synopsis:

Citizens of countries throughout the Middle East were risking their lives to air grievances against their rulers long before Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg even enrolled at Harvard nine years ago. This year, though, they’ve taken to the streets in unprecedented numbers, and they’re using social media to organize themselves.

The phrase “Twitter Revolution” is now being thrown around in the media. Is that overstating it? Or is social media fundamentally changing the dynamic between governments and their citizens?

Listen to the full interview: http://mdmorn.wordpress.com/2011/02/18/218112-social-media-in-the-middle-east/

Recap: Social Media and Egypt’s Revolution

The protests in Egypt have been front and center in the American media over the previous two weeks.  We were greeted with daily updates about former President Mubarak’s grasp on power, and, ultimately, his resignation.  Buried in all the rapidly unfolding events were numerous stories about social media and its role in the revolution.  I think it may be useful to aggregate all these stories as we begin to analyze how important social media was (if at all) to the revolution – and, also, whether the revolution has significant implications for social media.

As a prelude to the unrest in Egypt (and Tunisia) several cables conveying communications between US diplomats and the State Department were leaked to Wikileaks.  The connection between these leaks and the protests in Tunisia was covered in the Guardian and the Village Voice.  Journalists, ever eager for a sexy headline, quickly labeled Tunisia “The First Wikileaks Revolution.”  The cables also brought global attention to “routine and pervasive” police brutality under the Mubarak regime, giving increased legitimacy to dissident groups.

After Tunisia’s President Ben Ali fell, unrest quickly spread to Egypt.  Largely unprepared to cover the event, the Western media was forced to rely on Twitter feeds (as well as Al Jazeera) as a primary source for reporting.  (For an excellent analysis of the most watched Twitter feeds see Zeynep Tufekci’s “Can ‘Leaderless Revolutions’ Stay Leaderless: Preferential Attachment, Iron Laws and Networks.”) (more…)