Twitter and the Occupy Wall Street Movement

When Jack Dorsey launched Twitter in July 2006, he intended it to be a tool used for individuals to communicate with small groups. Popularity quickly grew and it became both a forum for people to share their ideas, as well as a personal blog spot. Many organizations saw this as an opportunity to advertise their products or ideas through the easy to follow hashtags (#.) The twitter blog #numbers shows the exactly how the number of users and posts on twitter has grown since 2006. According to the post, Twitter was up and functioning for 3 years, 2 months and 1 day before it received its one-billionth tweet. Now, the service handles a billion tweets every week.

The Occupy Wall Street Movement saw this as the perfect opportunity to attract young people to the movement, and keep individuals across the nation connected to each other. As the New York Times points out on October 3, 2011, the Occupy movement was weak at first, with little organization and a heavy reliance upon Myspace, Facebook and Twitter to spread their message. Social networking sites were important mediums for the Occupy movement. According to the Huffington Post of October 2011, “In just one month, the Occupy Wall Street protests have grown from a few discontented citizens to a movement sweeping the globe, but its rapid pace of growth might never have been possible without a key tool for social connectivity: Twitter.” @OccupyWallSt is the official twitter account of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Some cities also have their own twitter account, including @OccupyWallStNYC, @OccupyPhoenix or @OccupyLA. The hashtag, #OWS, allows for different accounts such as, @OccupyPolitics to be united with the different locations’ accounts and individuals. Currently the official of occupywallst.org (@OccupyWallSt) has over 150,000 followers and has made nearly 7,000 tweets.

There are different tactics that the @OccupyWallSt utilizes to share media with others. Their avatar is a black and white image of a clenched fist, known as the ‘solidarity fist.’ This image is used to evoke a sense of something strong and united. The Occupy movement chose an image that would give off a sense of anger and wrath because they were ready to fight. The background is a large image of thousands of people protesting in the streets of New York City. Once again this photograph creates a feeling of being united and strong. Although there are many different people coming from various backgrounds, they are still coming together to support one cause. The ticker in the top right corner lets people know that it is New York City they are showing. This photograph works to create a feeling of unison across a variety of people. The account’s description reads, “News and information about the Occupy Wall Street movement. Opinions tweeted do not reflect the occupation as a whole. Official twitter of occupywallst.org #OWS.” The left bar on the twitter page has an option to select images uploaded by @OccupyWallSt. When the user goes to this link they will find a large number of different photographs uploaded by different individuals. All of the images include a description and have something to do with the Occupy Wall Street Movement. Photographs ranging from Occupy Boston to Occupy DC are featured. These pieces of medium are used to create a strong sense of the pressing nature behind the issue. What @OccupyWallSt cannot share in their tweets, they can express through the photographs they share. Some include:

Image tweeted @OccupyWallSt: Thousands strong at Union Square

An Arrest

Another photograph tweeted by @OccupyWallSt, an armless man being arrested

One man tweeted this image six months ago, tagging @OccupyWallSt with the caption, “#NYPD arrests an armless person? wtf #OccupyWallStreet.” The direct link to the photograph on Flickr shares numerous comments from people who were upset with what they thought was an unnecessary arrest.

It is important to remember that Twitter allows for one to talk about a movement or idea, whether the comment is positive or negative. The previously cited Huffington Post shares that “22 percent of tweets with #occupywallstreet supported the movement, while 11 percent were against it.” The @OccupyWallSt account or #OWS could be used by people who do not support the movement and therefore, the movement runs the risk of opposition using twitter to slow down or stop the spread of Occupy Wall Street.

Savannah R. Edwards

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4 responses to “Twitter and the Occupy Wall Street Movement

  1. eimilealoisia

    Good post, especially the bit at the end about how people can use #occupywallstreet to criticise the movement. Your introduction was also eye-catching and it made me want to read what you had to say. I do have one suggestion; is there any way you could get some screen caps of actual tweets with the hashtag, maybe a positive tweet and a negative tweet? Also, is there any way you could link those twitter user names to display the actual accounts if readers wanted to click on them? Anyway, good job, I enjoyed reading.

  2. coffeeshoprhino

    Was the intention for OWS to use Tweets the way it did or did it just happen that way? Also, can you show how this sharing (of images or comments) is important. Especially specific examples to support your claim.

  3. Pingback: Occupy Wall Street Analysis

  4. Pingback: What Is OWS: Twitter’s Role in the Movement | Occupy Wall Street Analysis

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