For my internet nerds who study movements…. I think there is a general trend where left movements start locally, and use social media to go national, which fundamentally changes the focus from a local justice movement to a national issue campaign.
For the left, when a local movement goes national, the demands change and national organizations begin to drive most of the calls to action as well as fundraising.

This leaves local organizers with fewer avenues for redress even as the movement grows.
I see this trend going back a decade. Examples abound: Bloombergville became Occupy, justice 4 Trayvon became BLM, Dakota access pipeline became Standing rock became idle no more…

Some local organizers felt the national conversation diluted their local support.
On the right, it’s different. Internet enabled social change is not tied to local grievances. However with CRT, the right has tapped into local organizing using a model that looks similar to the 2011-2012 strategies of orgs, like Move On.
The campaign against CRT has been picked up by everyone from youtubers and political strategiests (who are setting the tone) to parents who are localizing it in school boards. This is being fed back into the internet via viral clips that are mobilzing more people.
I study livestreams and social media to better understand the wires to the weeds. How does the internet support social change? And why does media mobilize?

One significant way the internet becomes critical to mobilizing is how it allows for multiple definitions of the situation
More than just spreading different perspectives, the use of social media allows for defining the opposition by creating paper tigers.

These mischaracterizations are most effective when the group is small and struggling for representation.
This is at odds with the way social media companies believe their products “give voice” to marginalized groups.

If you both celebrate how the product serves a particular group, but you also provide services to those impersonating or maligning those groups, it causes more damage
Never the less, professors, teachers, advocates continue to try to properly define CRT because the facts are misrepresented.

But the aim of this growing movement is not just to malign CRT.

It is to save patriotic education, a political project with its roots in the KKK.
This was one of the final goals of the Trump administration with his 1776 commission:…

Tactically, wedging the issue of CRT opens the way for redefining what kind of history should be taught. That’s the goal here.
Anti-racist education is a necessity, so that the institutions of tomorrow do not repeat the horrors of today.

Institutions are organized people+beliefs+action.

Attaining an anti-racist future requires all of us to care about the content and quality of public education.
As school boards address how to teach race and racism in classrooms, the challenge is local. Social media makes the issue a national one, but these decisions will be made differently in each community.

Watch out for paper tigers.
Get involved locally.
Know hope for the future.
Many of the insights in this thread can be read in a piece from me and @BrandingBrandi here:…

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More from @BostonJoan

13 Jun
Remember when TP*USA created the "Professor Watchlist" in 2016? The targeting of CRT feels like that moment, only bigger and more organized. I am growing increasingly worried for colleagues set to teach courses about race in the summer and fall. Universities must prepare.
Universities need clearer policies on students recording presentations and putting course work online. Platform companies, too, need to be prepared to help teachers who are getting doxed and harassed because of course offerings.
Prior doxing and harassment campaigns, like #FilmYourMarxistProfessor, were small. Yet, the focus on CRT has the potential to be devastating for non-tenured faculty and teachers. I want to remind everyone that educators are not public figures.
Read 4 tweets
27 Apr
While the attention economy is one metaphor to describe social media as a content distribution system, it is woefully inadequate to model policy on. It turns debate about problems exacerbated by social media into a set of consumer choices. #PublicInterestInternet
Fundamentally, to buy the attention economy argument you have to believe that people are blank slates molded by outside forces, rather than what we are, which is complex thinking beings, where motivated disinformers are using social media in the same way other professions do.
The one thing the hearing really lacked was a sense of who manipulates algorithms, how it is done, and to what ends. From that perspective, the companies should have been answering questions about how they determine what content to distribute and what criteria is used to moderate
Read 5 tweets
17 Mar
Not with a bang, but a whimper, a whisper.

Many of you have probably heard the word infrastructure before, but in my field it means not just hardware, but also the usage and enforcement of protocols by people.
That is to say, an infrastructure should remain into the background when it’s working well, but infrastructure becomes a problem when it breaks down (cite Leigh Star).

We don’t notice a bridge, a road, electrical wires, or internet service as until the are broken.
Think about old telephone systems. It involved women, sitting at switchboards, physically plugging in lines to connect people. While we have automated much of that, people still work at the phone company enforcing the protocols and maintaining the hardware. (Read @histoftech)
Read 8 tweets
28 Feb
While social media companies would love to reduce every issue to one of speech (so they can defer to 1A or moderation policies), that is a red herring.

These are technologies of amplification, where every some accounts are like a full-scale radio, tv, and print network.
We should pay closer attention to the amplification capacity of elite accounts and insist on higher standards in the public interest, especially when the account reaches hundreds of thousands instantly and shapes reality in real time.

Every post that reaches 50K is a broadcast!
Like secondhand smoke, misinformation-at-scale harms our health & democracy. Today, the meme of 'America First' found its way from the grotesque joker politics of the far right into the mouths of political elites alongside the rehearsed lies of a rigged election, & "plandemic."
Read 6 tweets
28 Feb
A few weeks ago, I pointed out Facebook’s shady dealings with corporate researchers, academics, & journalists. Several folks were critical of me for pointing it out, suggesting I was lying or paranoid.

Here, a NYT journalist, a nonprofit, and a NYU research team are implicated.
Some of the same people who took shots at me for criticizing FB’s gifting of data to specific researchers, universities, or firms also enjoy a certain proximity to power by working on projects funded by the tech industry or enjoy lucrative consulting deals.
These are the same people we are supposed to trust to audit these companies? Nope. Funding and access impacts all of us because it troubles the entire endeavor of research for accountability.
Read 8 tweets
28 Feb
I first started reading @pnhoward’s research in grad school and learned a lot about comparative sociology.

At @ShorensteinCtr, we also work with journalists as new problem areas emerge and disinformation shape shifts.
One thing I’ve been highly critical of over the years is the idea that universities should do “rapid response” research. We simply aren’t equipped to do that alone.

Time and time again, we see that journalists working with researchers leads to the most accurate evidence.
There is also a rich tradition in sociology of meta-analysis of news stories that gives some shape and depth to a global phenomena. The cybertroops report by @sbradshaww does a good job with that social science research method.
Read 5 tweets

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