Supporting Youth Activists’ Strategic Use of Social Media: A Qualitative Investigation of Design Opportunities

Farnaz Irannejad Bisafar, Brooke Foucault Welles, Catherine D’ignazio, Andrea G. Parker
NSF Public Access Repository
January 1, 2020


Social Networking Sites (SNS) provide a platform for engaging youth in activism (e.g., by helping mobilize civic action). While youth typically employ casual approaches to online activism (i.e., quick actions, such as broadcast posts to advertise social justice events), more strategic practices (i.e., those that are more creative and informed) can increase the likelihood of successful online campaigns. However, little work has examined how youth activists can be supported to use SNS more strategically. To address this research gap, we conducted interviews with youth activists, exploring how youth made sense of social network visualizations and their perspectives on how such tools could support their activism efforts. Our findings characterize how participants made inferences about followers' identities based on their hashtag use, and how they used those inferences in outreach decisions. We conclude with design implications for future research in this area.

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