YouTube: Engine of Social Change?Is social media the new voice for social change? A new study suggests that YouTube videos provide a popular and flexible venue to promote online activism.

Researchers analyzed the manner by which two different social protest movements — Occupy Wall Street and the Proposition 8 same sex marriage initiative — utilized YouTube to engage activists.

The article is published in the peer-reviewed journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking.

Emily Vraga, Ph.D., and coauthors emphasize an important advantage of YouTube videos for the purpose of social and political activism: they can be shared easily, quickly, and effectively through a variety of mechanisms, including other forms of social media, email, and print media.

The study compares how two disparate political movements used YouTube to define and advance their goals.

It showed that social media activism resulted in differing degrees of popularity and engagement, perhaps related to the content of the videos and to the different online environments in which they appear.

“As YouTube matures, and additional social networking tools evolve, it is interesting to note how these tools may be used by individual citizens as well as political activists to advance their goals,” says Brenda K. Wiederhold, Ph.D., M.B.A., B.C.I.A., editor-in-chief of Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking.

Source: Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.