Washington: Social media such as YouTube videos provide a popular and flexible venue for on-line social activism, a new study has found.
The study explains how two different social protest movements - Occupy Wall Street and the Proposition 8 same sex marriage initiative - utilised YouTube, and their success in engaging activists.
Emily Vraga and coauthors from George Mason University, Georgetown University, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and University of Southern California emphasise an important advantage of YouTube videos for the purpose of social and political activism: they can be shared easily, quickly, and effectively through a variety of mechanisms, including other forms of social media, email, and print media.
Their article compares how the two disparate political movements used YouTube to define and advance their goals.
The study shows that social media activism resulted in differing degrees of popularity and engagement, perhaps related to the content of the videos and to the different on-line environments in which they appear.
"As YouTube matures, and additional social networking tools evolve, it is interesting to note how these tools may be used by individual citizens as well as political activists to advance their goals," said Brenda K Wiederhold, Editor-in-Chief of Cyberpsychology, Behaviour, and Social Networking, from the Interactive Media Institute, San Diego.
The study was published in the peer-reviewed journal Cyberpsychology, Behaviour, and Social Networking.