Pew – As the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag turns 5 years old, a look at its evolution on Twitter and how Americans view social media’s impact on political and civic engagement: “This month marks the fifth anniversary of the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag, which was first coined following the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin. In the course of those five years, #BlackLivesMatter has become an archetypal example of modern protests and political engagement on social media: A new Pew Research Center analysis of public tweets finds the hashtag has been used nearly 30 million times on Twitter – an average of 17,002 times per day – as of May 1, 2018. The conversations surrounding this hashtag often center on issues related to race, violence and law enforcement, and its usage periodically surges surrounding real-world events – most prominently, during the police-related deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile and the subsequent shooting of police officers in Dallas, Texas, and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in July 2016. The rise of the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag – along with others like #MeToo and #MAGA (Make America Great Again) – has sparked a broader discussion about the effectiveness and viability of using social media for political engagement and social activism. To that end, a new survey by the Center finds that majorities of Americans do believe these sites are very or somewhat important for accomplishing a range of political goals, such as getting politicians to pay attention to issues (69% of Americans feel these platforms are important for this purpose) or creating sustained movements for social change (67%).
Certain groups of social media users – most notably, those who are black or Hispanic – view these platforms as an especially important tool for their own political engagement. For example, roughly half of black social media users say these platforms are at least somewhat personally important to them as a venue for expressing their political views or for getting involved with issues that are important to them. Those shares fall to around a third among white social media users…”