Minorities Making Meaningful Use of Social Media

According to a new study, Hispanics and African Americans are much more likely to become involved in social issues online. 

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We get that not everything about race and the Internet has to be an anthropological study. As The Root's Elon James White wrote in a piece about Twitter, "Our actions on the site just aren't that amazing. We (El Negroes) are like everybody else. We have sections and subsections that cover wildly different things. Some follow ignorant nonsense like comedian Lil' Duval and tweet constantly about The Game. Others write poetry and dissect policy and question power structure." But new research has implications that deserve more than a "So what?"

A Georgetown University study comparing the use and effects of social media found that, compared with white users, Hispanic and African Americans are more likely to use it to learn about and become involved in social issues. When asked if they felt more likely to support a cause or social issue online than offline, the percentage of positive results from white respondents was approximately one-fourth. African-American respondents answered "more likely" nearly one-third of the time, while Hispanic respondents were 39 percent more likely to support a social issue or cause online.

The study also asked participants whether they thought they were receiving an "overload" of emails about causes. Whites likened emails concerning causes to spam significantly more often (76 percent) than Hispanics (69 percent) or African Americans (66 percent).  

The findings are as meaningful for activists looking to raise awareness and gather support for social issues that affect minority communities as they are for those still trying to decide if "black Twitter" is any more than an online version of the Dozens (short answer: yes).

The study was conducted by Georgetown's Center for Social Impact Communication and Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide.

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