Giving Animal Rights a Digital Makeover

For many, social networks have infamously become outlets for spreading ill-informed social opinions and misguided facts to an audience that mainly already agrees with one's own pre-formed ideas and conceptions.  This bare-minimum style of advocacy, known as slacktivism ,  has been on the rise and still continues to thrive. With the growing power of social media however, it is possible that what was once a place for long rants in little pockets today has the power to change public opinion, mobilse activists and even galvanize movements.
 
Social media has had a huge role to play in movements such as #ArabSpring, #PinkChaddi, #MeToo and #MarrigeEquality. However, one of the first movements to successfully use social media to shape history was the Black Lives Matter Movement.  Where previous social media advocacy presented a problem and asked people to care, Black Lives Matter identified and humanized an issue that its supporters faced every day—the regular killing of unarmed black people by police officers.
 
The success of the Black Lives Matter movement though, really stood in tying social media with on ground protests and marches, Black Lives Matter successfully harnessed feelings already present and organized them into a coherent movement. This sort of grassroots mobilization is not new to popular movements, but Black Lives Matter was the first to replicate the process on social media. Today, the movement has 30 local chapters that regularly raise their voice against racial brutality both digitally and offline.

Other examples of social movements with a strong digital presence that had real consequences include the #ArabSpring Movement, where (in response to a poll) nine out of ten Egyptians and Tunisians claimed to using Facebook to organise protests and spread awareness and the #MeToo movement, which has seen the sacking of many officials, and has been used by more than 4.7 billion people all across the world.
 
So how does this fit in with animal rights?  Social media brings with itself the power to uncover and document cruelty that is otherwise invisible to the public, and in an era where unbiased print coverage is nearly impossible to find –the internet offers a megaphone to anyone with a voice and an indignation.
 
Social media is thus a powerful tool to expose and share the suffering of the 56 billion animals, that otherwise live and die in misery. One great example of this was FIAPO’s ownundercover dairy investigation. that put in public view some of the most common and horrific practices that were otherwise veiled in the garb of ‘healthy milk’. 
 
Another example of this success was the IUFA movement – a digitally organised movement that saw participation from the likes of Sonakshi Sinha and Kapil Sharma,and galvanized over 60 cities, in India and abroad to stand together for the rights of animals to live with dignity and without fear.
 
Online petitions, crowd funding, pressure building, awareness generation and most significantly organizing ourselves virtually are just some of the ways we can use social media to bring to the forefront the issue of animal suffering to shift from the status quo. With 2.46 billion users of social media, there’s never been a better and cheaper forum to speak up and win for animals!   Far from the confines of slacktivism, the internet can be a game changer for animal rights. Animal activism in India needs a makeover – for the digital age.

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