social media campaigning@gold

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Week 2

This week we focused on the significance of social media, meaning how it has really changed the way people are informed and how they take action.

Dan first talked about the Internet as infrastructure. The following link has a graph showing how the Internet in Egypt was cut off in 2011 during Arab Spring. Dan said although the Internet is invisible (for example wifi flies in the air and you cannot see it), but it’s still like a pipe, if it’s cut off, it’s cut off.

We then looked at a mapping of hate speech against gays, races, and the disabled in the US.

They set certain keywords representing hate speech and scanned them on Twitter to find out where those tweets were made.

After that we looked at the case of how News of the World was made bankrupt after a huge Twitter campaigning started by one individual. Here is a news line.

News of the World had been known for its extreme sexism, xenophobia, and hypocrisy. People had already hated it but were not sure how they could take action. @the_z_factor was one of them and was thinking what sort of action was effective. S/he first tried turning over all the copies of the paper in shops but noticed it wasn’t effective enough. S/he then looked at News of the World’s website and found the list of advertisers. S/he thought the best strategy was to damage their wallet so started to tweet the list on Twitter. People immediately responded to it and the tweet was retweeted so many times including celebrities. Even a website like this was created.

Eventually almost all the advertisers were out that the company could no longer carry on its business.

Dan talked a bit about Spartacus.

Internet tools like Twitter also allow From-Bed-Activism, meaning physically less mobile people can take part in activism without going on the street.

For example, Brown Moses (@Brown_Moses) used to be unemployed staying at home all the time but eventually became one of the most trustworthy analysts for Syria. What he basically did was watching all the youtube videos about what’s happening in Syria and compared them and tried to draw out the most reliable line of information.

We then talked about the way Japanese people started to follow radiation experts on Twitter as soon as the Fukushima nuclear disaster happened. People were after reliable sources of information and discovered, for example, tweets by a scientist specialised in the simulation of the expansion of ash. He could roughly tell how radioactive particles would spread calculating the wind velocity and so on. There were altogether about 20, 30 seemingly trustworthy people so basically everyone followed them. We learned, for example, there are mainly two units to measure radiation, Sievert and Becquerel. Sievert is normally used for radiation in the air, Becquerel is for liquid and solid matters. A geiger counter is actually quite tricky to use, the value fluctuates easily depending on numerous factors. You can’t detect all the radiation using a geiger counter only, for example, radiation goes into food, water, soil etc. for those cases a geiger counter doesn’t work. And we also studied the history of how nuclear plants came into existence in the first place in Japan. And much much more..

We then did a group discussion. We were asked to raise the top 3 impacts of social media. What has it really changed?

In my group, we mainly talked about the speed of the spread of information, people in developing countries who are disfranchised from digital technology and so on. I said, for example, people in Nigeria upload videos of their chicken farms, boasting how fast they can process chickens and stuff. Many Nigerian people praise their successes.

People from other groups talked about the power of celebrities, people became participants from observers and so on.

In my opinion, the top 3 impacts are:


Clarification of divisions among different faiths of people and the resulting increasing tendency of creating a ‘false’ reality. As almost everyone expresses their own opinions online through social media such as Facebook and Twitter, you can now see what each individual really follows. People create their own realities by following each other’s output. To me, at the moment this works rather more negatively than positively. I mean, people tend to follow only what they want to believe or trust and this allows people to make biased perspectives. I often see arguments on Twitter, usually they never understand each other. There is another thing to be noted, not everyone says things on social media. There are a large ratio of people who don’t say anything but just watch what’s going on.


A new way of consuming information ‘stream’. Information flows like a stream and you get the information as you go across it. Basically you need to watch the stream almost all the time to keep up with the world being updated 24/7.


The power of spread. Whether something is good or not, when it goes viral, you cannot stop it. With this power, one individual could change something big such as multinational corporations. It could also work negatively, one individual’s tiny mistake could cause a fatal result for his/her life.

We then tried Scraper wiki and tried to extract metadata out of tweets.

You can also do mapping of tweets, basically where they are made.

Links about metadata we looked at:


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Week 1

We watched Greenpeace’s campaign video on Nestle’s use of palm oil particularly in KitKat. This video (

As most people know, oil palm plantation massively damages the environment, however palm oil is a necessity for cheap food products such as chocolate, cookies and deep-fried food.

Therefore many tropical developing countries in South East Asia and Africa are eager to grow oil palms.

The following website summarises the ecology around palm oil:

Greenpeace received lots of media attention through this campaign so the campaign itself was successful, however it doesn’t mean they could make any change to the situation.

*Environmental activist groups such as Greenpeace make funny videos like above almost every week but it’s quite rare for them to be able to get  good media attention.

We then looked at Twitter’s hashtag. Hashtags had already been used by activists/campaigners before Twitter came in. I tried to find some information related to it but couldn’t find any.

Twitter’s hashtag was invented by Chris Messina and the first post including it was, “how do you feel about using # (pound) for groups. As in #barcamp [msg]?”

Using hashtags you can make or see streams of people’s tweets about certain topics. We split into groups and looked at certain hashtags. We did “#policing” and “#immigration #romanian”. #policing mainly had tweets about how brutal police officers have been recently.

We then moved onto a hashtag analysis website called flocker ( This website allows you to see who is in the centre of a certain topic bound by a hashtag and who is the medium connecting people in different interests.

We tried #policing on flocker and found out that the Brazilian president @dilmabr is in the centre of the topic, meaning she has the most influence on #policing.

You can also switch the search mode on flocker. We tried Data Laboratory and Word cloud.

We will have made our own name (your course, something about the course, your skills and experience) on the social media campaigning wiki by next week.

I’m skeptical about whether campaigning can fundamentally change something or not. It seems to be the attempt of patching over each problem temporarily when it arose.