Why do you click “like” on an organization’s page on Facebook? Possibly to show support for the group. But if you’re like me, I also want to get occasional updates in my newsfeed about current activities and actions of the group or cause. However, to boost the chance that subscribers see more of a group’s posts, Facebook is now charging them money for “promoted posts.” This policy change points to the continuing challenge to the utopic idea that costs have been virtually eliminated for virtual activists.
Digital activism is not “flat,” or without hierarchies, when it is dependent on money and stratification, a fancy sociology word for social class divisions based on power relations. As more social movements and organizations become dependent on these types of social media platforms, they are also more and more tethered to corporations with the end goal being profit. Ultimately, rather than leveling the playing field of activism, people with more money will have an advantage of getting their message out – which crowds out the grassroots viral ideal of digital democracy. It doesn’t make it impossible for un-promoted posts to be seen, but your Facebook feed could be jammed with people paying to be in it. Continue reading