Online activism is the use of internet based communication tools to inform, mobilise and promote action/activity.
It is useful as it’s message is put across instantly, cheaply and bypasses the gatekeepers associated with standard media. Once considered a medium used by outside groups who could not gain access to more mainstream media outlets. Online activism has been split into three categories but author Sandor Vegh: Awareness/advocacy, organisation/mobilisation, and action/reaction. Popular tools for online activism are Twitter, Youtube, Facebook & the political parties website.
The most popular example of online activism would be Barack Obama’s presidential campaign where through the myBarackObama.com website they registered 1.5 million volunteers and raised $600m from 3 million people.
Online activism also inspires votes from a generation who might not have been interested in politics. By taking politics to platform which young people are comfortable with opens politics up to an entire new electorate.
Online activism has been used recently for the November 3rd Dublin student protests with many protesters tweeting giving an up to date report on the march.
Online activism is also used by terrorist groups. The anonymous nature of the web means online activism is also used by terrorist groups. They are also aided by the worldwide accessibility of the net. Although avid users of the web terrorists don’t glorify their violent activities. They focus on the restrictions placed on freedom of expression and the plight of political prisoners.
Critics of online activism argue that the digital divide means those with no online access will be poorly represented and left behind.