[Collective action, with new tools,] challenges existing institutions, by eroding the institutional monopoly on large-scale coordination.
-Clay Shirky, Here Comes Everybody
What exactly is clicktivism? The Oxford English Dictionary (yes they cover this) defines Clicktivism as “the use of social media and other online methods to promote a cause.” That’s a good starting point, however it is a tad narrow given the scope of all online activism.
The premise behind clicktivism is that social media allows for quick and easy ways to support an organization or cause. The rise of social, and other digital media, has seen an equally large surge in the way that NGOs utilize the Internet for campaigning, and so to limit clicktivism to solely the promotion of a cause does it, and the work that these organizations have done, a disservice. Clicktivism is not exclusively the support or promotion of a cause online. It is the use of digital media for facilitating social change and activism. More often than not this takes the form of supporting and promoting a cause on social media, but it can include a whole a range of activities, for example:
- organizing protests (Egypt circa 2011, at least in part)
- facilitating boycotts (a boycott of Whole Foods)
- signing petitions (Greenpeace’s marine reserves petition, or anything on Avaaz)
- hacktivism (Google’s work with Say Now to circumvent censorship of Twitter in Egypt)
- crowdfunding (kiva.org or kickstarter)
- online parody and satire (Yes Men style parodies of Koch Industries)
- Google bombing (Dan Savage’s Santorum campaign)
What are some of your favorite examples of clicktivism? Leave a comment below and let us know.