UPDATE : 2018.11.15 목 10:26

[Vol. 79] Hashtag Activism: What Can Make World Change with a Word

이시연 기자l승인2018.06.11l수정2018.07.01 01:42

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  People in modern society often communicate by social media, including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. You may have seen a hash tag (#) once in these social media like #selstagram or # petstagram, # 98 posting with one’s photo. Have you ever clicked on such a hash tag in blue letters? By doing that, you can see all the posts with same hash tag. Then, how did it start?

  The beginning of the hashtag is actually not big. Chris Messinaha, an open source activist, focused on lots of information and messeges on social media. He suggested to bind it to its subject using hash tag and Twitter accepted his offer.

  On August 23, 2007, ChrisMessina left a short message on Twitter. “What do you think about using the # to bind information? #Bakampf:[Message]” :This was the moment when the hashtag was born.

  At first, hashtag was used simply as a grouping of information, but these days, it is becoming common to use hashtag as a means of social movement. This is called hashtag activism.

  So, what are some examples of hashtag activism?

 

#BringbackourGirls

  On April 14, 2014, 276 Nigerian girls were kidnapped by Bokharam, an extremist Islamic militant group. Bokoharam is an organization that says Western education is a sin and women don't have to go to school and get married. It was an act of forcibly kidnapping young girls of average age of 12 and letting the world know their beliefs. The leader of Bokharam said he had already kidnapped 276 girls and he will continue to kidnap girls. They argued that they would release the kidnapped girl students if the government released the gang members, but the Nigerian government refused. Celebrities stop them using hash tag activism. Mexican actress Salma Hayek appeared on the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2014 with a picket sign reading " # BringbackourGirls. " This means that the Islamic militant group should send back 270 female students who were abducted. Selma asked to have attention directed on Nigeria and asked for help. Because of this, the campaign to return kidnapped students has drawn worldwide attention. U.S. First Lady Michelle Obama also supported it.

 

#OccupyWallStreet

  The protest began on September 17 2011, when online magazine Adbusters suggested posting “#OccupyWallStreet” on social networking sites including Twitter. Point of the Wall Street protest was the slogan : ' 99 percent of Americans stand up for the richest one percent. ' The direct complaints of demonstrators are the gap between the rich and the poor.

  On the first day of the protest, only about 1,000 people gathered at the main park in Manhattan, New York, but after the fact that the police had cracked down on the protesters became known, the number of protesters increased. Since then, the protests have spread to major cities in the United States, including Boston, Seattle, Los Angeles, and the capital, Washington, D.C.

  In particular, the demonstrators designated October 15 as ' International Day of Action ' and spread it around the world. On the same day, similar protests took place in more than 900 cities including Europe and Asia.

  Jeff Jarvis, a professor of journalism at the University of New York in the U.S., said in his blog, "Hashtag has no owner, no class, no discipline or beliefs. This is an empty space where someone has to fill with frustration, complaints, demands and wishes.” Time magazine named the protest the demonstrator along with the Arab Spring, and named it ' The Man of the Year in 2011. '

 

#PrayForParis/ PrayForNepal

  Hashtag activism is not only used for encouraging action. On the November 13, 2015, at least 120 people were killed and more than 200 injured in a series of terrorist attacks in Paris, France. As many people who had no interest in the terrorist act were killed by the act itself, various activities took place around the world. Among them, the " # PrayForParis " hashtag of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram became popular.

  When many people are killed or a natural disaster occurs, such as the Paris terrorist attacks, the hash tag # PrayFor ` is widely used as an Internet official language to comfort and care for the people. People around the world expressed their condolences through a hash tag called ' # PrayForNepal ' when a strong earthquake occured in Nepal. According to the social analysis website TOPSY, " # PrayforParis " was mentioned as many as 2.28 million times on the day of November 14 on Twitter.

 

#MeToo

  It is easy to find hashtag activism that has caused huge social impact in South Korea as well as abroad. Looking back to the year 2018, when not half of the year is yet over, one of the hottest issues was the #MeToo. #MeToo is a hash tag activity originally started in the United States. It started in October 2017 with a hashtag (# MeToo) that became popular in social media to expose and criticize Harvey Weinstein's sexual harassment activities. In Korea, prosecutor Seo Ji-hyeon filed a lawsuit against sexual harassment, leading to arrests in the entertainment industry, colleges, and so on. Related to well- known celebrities, #MeToo activism has caused a great deal of shock and created a social stir.

 

  Hashtag activism was originally used not only as binding information, but also for being responsible for producing a kind of contents. Finally, it expanded into a social movement. The courageous confessions and interest of the society of citizens centering on hashtag gathered and opened the door to change. This showed their power as collective intelligence as the group continued to gather not only online but also offline. This is not the opinion formed by the press, but by citizens themselves using social networking services. Thus, hashtag activism can be interpreted as ' content ' formed not only by the development of social media but by improving people's perception and changing social atmosphere.


이시연 기자  fun7584@naver.com
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