Search This Blog

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Instagram Politics

 Instagram is ten years old today.

Julie Jammot at AFP:

Artful photos of sunsets and ice cream are being challenged by more activist content on Instagram as it turns 10 years old in a time of social justice protests, climate crisis, and the pandemic.

Founded in 2010 by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, the app had one billion users two years and has grown fast since then, after first capturing the public's attention with its image filters, and easy photo editing and sharing tools.

But playful pictures, once a hallmark of Instagram, are increasingly seen as off-key when people are "losing jobs, being sick, isolated and depressed, then on top of that the BLM (Black Lives Matter) protests and everything going on with the US election," reasoned Rebecca Davis.

In 2016 she created 'Rallyandrise', an account devoted to helping people engage politically.

"Not that there's no time and place for pretty photos, but maybe people are trying to find a balance," she said.

The number of people subscribing to the New York resident's account has more than doubled to 24,000 in recent months.

In May, protests erupted across the US after a video was shared across social media of handcuffed Black man George Floyd dying while a police officer knelt on his neck for more than five minutes in Minneapolis.

Simultaneously, the pandemic had people hunkering down inside and spending more time than ever before online.

Overshadowing it all was the contentious presidential election in November.

"People were desperate for advice and guidance in doing something," Davis said.

Online petitions, fund-raising and organizing became the norm and Instagram was prime terrain for the trend.

Former US presidential contender Hillary Clinton and celebrity Kourtney Kardashian among several public figures who have used Instagram to spotlight racial issues by handing over their accounts to prominent African-Americans for 24 hours.

"Instagram is our highest, most effective platform when it comes to getting users to follow through on action links," said American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) social media manager Emily Patterson, referring to getting people to click through to sign petitions, organize protests, or contact members of Congress.

"It has the audience we're trying to reach."