Political engagement online takes work, too. Here’s why.

When it comes to effectively propagating a message in the modern day, few do it quite like internet activists.

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  • Groups with more resources, more organizational infrastructure, and more conservatives leanings tend to use the internet for political activism more so than their working class, left-leaning counterparts.
  • Building a political movement with a strong online component takes a tremendous amount of work and expertise, such as understanding how to leverage algorithms on social media to better propagate a message.
  • When it comes to sending out a message online to as wide an audience as possible, be mindful to develop ways to not just reach those who have the time and resources to be constantly online.
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Have conservative groups mastered the art of internet activism?

Left-leaning groups don't seem to have made as full use of the internet as right-leaning ones. As one conservative put it, Paul Revere had a horse, but they have the internet.

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  • Initially, people saw the internet as a tool for driving more participatory, pluralistic, and personal discussions, especially around politics.
  • However, with the exception of major movements like Occupy Wall Street, left-leaning groups haven't made as much use of the internet as right-leaning ones. In her research, Jen Schradie found that liberals see the internet as one tool of many to advocate for fairness; the trouble is, the idea of "fairness" brings together many disparate groups, making it difficult to present an organized, unified front, especially online.
  • Conservatives see the internet as a vehicle for freedom — freedom from the state, free markets, and freedom of information. Conservatives made the internet their platform, where they could organize and discuss issues that they didn't believe were being represented in the media.
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Hashtag politics: 4 key ways digital activism is inegalitarian

Many believe that the internet has made it easier for us to participate in political activism. But is that really true?

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  • Protesting in person is costly in terms of money and resources; some people have children to take care of, jobs that can't be away from, or may not have time to attend a planning event.
  • The internet was supposed to be a way to sidestep this barrier to political activism. But this doesn't consider the other barriers preventing poor and working-class folks from participating in digital activism.
  • In particular, these people lack ASETs: access to computers, the skills to use them, the empowerment necessary to feel that using Twitter or other social media is for them, and the time to make use of digital platforms in an effective way.
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