Beyond the Hashtags: #Ferguson, #BlackLivesMatter, and the Online Struggle for Offline Justice

Beyond the Hashtags: #Ferguson, #BlackLivesMatter, and the Online Struggle for Offline Justice

The movement, which for nearly three years has fueled a national conversation about, as well as protests against, police killings of unarmed African Americans, successfully used social media to project its messages beyond activist networks, a report from the at finds. The report, (92 pages, PDF), analyzed the movement's use of online media, especially Twitter, following the deaths of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and Eric Garner in 2014 and Walter Scott and Freddie Gray in 2015, and found that the online discussions were consistently led by African American voices but also attracted a large share of non-black followers during periods of heightened attention. The report also found that African-American teenagers and young adults, while heavily engaged in the movement online, were less politically focused than older adults, and that the movement used digital tools and platforms to criticize the mainstream media for "anti-black" reporting, create alternative narratives to those portrayals, and educate non-activists audiences and the broader public.