The news of today reported by the journalists of tomorrow

The Beacon

The news of today reported by the journalists of tomorrow

The Beacon

The news of today reported by the journalists of tomorrow

The Beacon

Do your research before partaking in social media activism

Social media has granted the opportunity for anyone regardless of status or merit to have a platform to share information and their opinions. The power to influence the masses comes with great responsibility, and it too frequently seems to be wielded carelessly. 

In a politically polarized nation in which individuals are presented with instantaneous updates on politics and world events, there are increasingly intense pressures for those with both small and large platforms to choose a side quickly and publicly on each new issue that arises. Audiences argue that a person with a platform has the responsibility to speak out on the issues that matter. 

I agree with this sentiment to a degree. Those with a platform should amplify stories and injustices that go overlooked.  

A great example of when this was effective was when those with a platform were sharing information and videos about the unjust killing of George Floyd. Since those with audiences were keeping eyes on the situation and holding the officers involved accountable, perpetrators were tried and charged, and legislation followed to try to prevent another situation like this.

Although social media activism can be effective, issues arise when a situation is more nuanced and requires further research. Celebrities and influencers are so concerned about getting their side out there quickly, they become less concerned about the merit or factual basis of their message. Reposting an Instagram story infographic without conducting further research is not just inadequate and superficial, but it can be harmful. 

This can be seen over the past few weeks regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Celebrities, influencers and regular people were quick to choose sides via an Instagram story repost, before quickly deleting them and choosing the other side, then retracting their statements another time and posting an infographic without considering the credibility of the information. Many fail to take the time to understand and develop a nuanced and fully developed opinion before speaking, which can have detrimental effects.

As a result of careless statements and reposts, there has been a slew of misinformation, antisemitism and Islamophobia that likely would be lessened if those with audiences were more careful about their messaging and information they shared. 

This new age of democracy has turned many into self-proclaimed social media activists. Although this sounds positive in sentiment, it falls short when these people are only partially committed to issues, do not fact-check information or start talking over the minority groups. Not everyone is cut out to be an activist and not everybody should be expected to if they’re not willing to put in the necessary effort it requires to make adequate and effective messages. 

Sometimes the most meaningful and effective thing those with an audience can do is just stop, listen and amplify voices of those who are knowledgeable and committed instead of speaking over them. “I don’t know,” or “I do not have enough information to speak on this,” can be the most intelligent thing to say before blindly choosing a position and realizing it may be the wrong one when it is too late. 

More people are relying on social media for news and opinions, so it is more important than ever to be extra considerate and critical of messages shared, especially if you have a large platform. Many argue that silence is violence, but what may be even more harmful is careless misinformation and performance activism.

About the Contributor
Sydney Allabaugh
Sydney Allabaugh, Opinion Editor
Sydney Allabaugh is the opinion editor of The Beacon. Allabaugh got her start with The Beacon as a contributing writer in the fall of 2021, became the opinion staff writer in the fall of 2022, worked as the assistant opinion editor in the spring of 2023, and was promoted to her current role in the fall of 2023. Allabaugh will be graduating in May of 2025 with a major in Communication Studies with concentrations in Media Production and Strategic Communication, as well as a minor in Women's and Gender Studies. Outside of The Beacon, Allabaugh is the director of Wilkes Now!, Wilkes' student-run television program. She joined Wilkes Now! in the fall of 2021, became a production assistant in the fall of 2022, and began directing in the fall of 2023.  Allabaugh is striving to work in television or public relations in her future.