How Facebook, Twitter jumpstarted the Women’s March

How Facebook, Twitter jumpstarted the Women’s March

Author: Erin Carson / Source: CNET Demonstrators protest on the National Mall for the Women's March on January 21, 2017. Carmen Perez ca

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Demonstrators protest on the National Mall for the Women’s March on January 21, 2017.

Carmen Perez can attest to the changes that have taken place in political protesting.

She’s the executive director of a nonprofit founded by Harry Belafonte, who was a part of the 1963 March on Washington. In Belafonte’s office, Perez saw an old telegram from Martin Luther King Jr. about the march. She just had to ask how long it took to correspond by telegram. It took weeks, he told her.

By contrast, Perez says the Women’s March on Washington, which she co-chairs, had social media on its side. Organizers could talk via an instantaneous direct message.

The idea for the protest started popping up on Facebook on election night. Teresa Shook of Hawaii invited 40 friends to her protest page and woke up to 10,000 followers in the morning. Bob Bland, a New York-based fashion designer, also made a page, as did many others. Soon after, all the protests were consolidated.

“Everything just went viral,” Perez said in an interview before she appeared at on a panel with march organizers at Vanity Fair’s Founders Fair in Brooklyn, New York. Perez and Bland are both co-chairs of the protest, which took place in January and prompted about a half million people to turn up in Washington the day after the inauguration. It also inspired sister marches around the world in Los Angeles, New York, Sydney, Berlin, Buenos Aires and other cities.

Organizers are exploiting the internet’s prodigious powers to rally protesters. It’s been used to bring people together around an idea, like women in tech. In September 2015, the hashtag #ILookLikeanEngineer inspired a storm of tweets…

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