A timeline of notable social media activism campaigns

    Social media campaigns are a dime a dozen, but some are obviously more prominent than others both in the states and around the globe. Here are some of the more memorable ones and the approximate times they started.

    February 2007: The Obama campaign

    President Barack Obama cemented his place in history as a young, hip candidate when he became the first to use social media tools in a presidential election. This went on for over a year, but it was in February when Obama first approached someone else about the idea. Obamicon profile pictures flooded Facebook. In high school terms of popularity, Barack Obama’s Twitter following made him the star quarterback to John McCain’s band geek. However, including MySpace in his campaign should retroactively take some cool points away from Mr. President.

    July 2008: Casey Anthony

    It’s easy to remember the social media storm from last summer, when the general public was outraged that she was acquitted from the first-degree murder of Caylee Anthony, her 2-year-old daughter. But the hype actually started in 2008, just days after the infant’s death. Casey’s own mother started the online drama with a MySpace post, and it never stopped. Though Casey walked away with only misdemeanor charges, the Internet clearly holds her accountable for murder.

    January 2010: Haiti

    This is by no means the only natural disaster to have sparked a social media flurry of support, but listing them all would get stale. The Red Cross used Tweets as a primary means of getting the word out their other virtual campaign ploy: imploring people to donate to a relief fund by texting “Haiti” to a certain number.

    December 2010: Arab Spring

    The collection of revolutions started with Tunisia, where younger generations took a stand about the nation’s censorship laws in favor of creating anti-Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali posts that eventually forced the leader of 23 years into exile. Egypt was the next country whose ruler toppled in part by an extensive use of social media, and many, many more followed in the coming months.

    September 2011: Occupy Wall Street

    The movement that lasted a while, but went nowhere gained a lot of ground on the web. What started in New York City spread throughout the country and the entire world. “Likes” upon “Likes” upon “Likes” helped gather steam for the protests. Flickr became inundadted with photos of the signage and tents. Of course, the regular media’s coverage cannot be understated, but it is hard to imagine such a huge rally coming together without an online component.

    March 2012: Kony 2012

    Joseph Kony is a bad guy. No one is arguing against that. Even so, Invisible Children’s 30-minute documentary caused controversy when it first flooded social media sites, even after coming back with a slightly less-controversial second part in April. Any debate about an issue like this is a productive one, and plenty of people on both sides were prompted to reflect on and in some cases change their views, all based on a single Facebook post or Tweet. 


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