Hijacking Social Media Movements

by Kendall Wenaas

Photo by Carmen Escobar Carrio. No changes were made.

Photo by Carmen Escobar Carrio. No changes were made.

Feminists are ugly, fat, pantsuit-wearing, people with body hair that would embarrass Chewbacca. At least that’s what some Twitter users are saying with the hashtag #HowToSpotAFeminist.

A couple days ago, the feed was filled with insulting tweets written by uniformed people. But now, self-proclaimed feminists are trying to take control of the hashtag. 

Phrases like “#HowToSpotAFeminist: Look in my direction.” can now be found next to “They SOOO jealous of us pretty conservative ladies…”

That’s the tough (well good, in this situation) thing about social media movements—they can be hijacked.

Last summer for example, the hashtag #YesAllWomen was originally created for women to show how they’d been oppressed. Soon after, the hashtag #NotAllMen showed up, and conflict ensued.

If the goal of a social media movement is to start a conversation, that goal can often be achieved. But if the goal is to steer the conversation a certain way, it’s a bit more difficult.

Social media sites are made up of all kinds of people, with very different opinions. When one passionate group of people offends another equally as passionate group, they should be prepared for them to fight back.

In the case of #HowToSpotAFeminist, I would argue that the hijacking is for the better. Yet the fact that it occurred is a lesson for all those looking to start a social media movement.

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2 responses to “Hijacking Social Media Movements

  1. I agree that it’s difficult for a conversation somewhere like Twitter to be steered in a certain direction, or to change direction. Luckily, as more people are comfortable putting their opinions out on Twitter, both sides of an argument will be present instead of one tromping the other.

  2. I know that businesses tend to have this issue, too. For example, I know Bill Cosby’s manager tried to create a meme of Bill Cosby and make light of his situation, and it completely backfired. Social media can be tricky, so especially in PR situations, my advice is to back off. On the other hand, social media is a great tool for straightforward advertising.

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