Leone Kraus

How #Prop8 Inspires Us Not to Turn Our Back On Twitter

Filed By Leone Kraus | August 11, 2010 9:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Media
Tags: California, Prop 8, Prop. 8, social media, Twitter

Like many LGBT activists, on the afternoon (east coast time) of August 4th, 2010, I was obsessed with tapping my computer's refresh button. I was waiting for Prop 8 to be overturned. Almost two hours after I began my obsessive refresh clicking, the page re-loaded. I, like millions of others in the 'equality for all' community, was beyond thrilled. A huge step towards our quest for full equality had been achieved.

When I was waiting for the ruling to come down, I had a number of windows open on my computer. One window had streaming live video from outside the courtroom in San Francisco, another had my Facebook account, another screen had the special site that was set up for the Prop 8 ruling, and in another window I had my Twitter stream.

Twitter Spreads the Word

The flow of information about Prop 8 being overturned went something like this. I discovered through a tweet on Twitter that Prop 8 was overturned, but it also had a caveat that it was 'unofficial'. Moments later, hundreds of tweets proclaiming that Prop 8 had been overturned began to populate. Tweets were being 'retweeted' at mass.

I clicked over to the window that had my Facebook page. The same thing began to occur. Facebook statuses claiming that Prop 8 had "unofficially" been overturned were appearing. I clicked back to the screen that had the live streaming video. The small crowd outside the courtroom didn't appear to know that rumors were flying around that Prop 8 was overturned.

The audio from the newscaster came on and said something to the effect that they were still standing by for official word from inside the courtroom. The newscaster did not seem to know that the news had already begun to spread virally across the Web. I gave up on the live video feed and kept toggling between my Twitter and Facebook account for the official word.

About five minutes after the "unofficial" news hit Twitter, the official news came and Twitter and Facebook exploded with excitement. The most common tweet I saw was "Prop 8 Overturned." Ten minutes later, the newscaster informed us that Prop 8 had been overturned.

Prop 8 Rises to Become a Trending Topic

On August 5th, 2010, one day after Prop 8 was overturned, it became a trending topic on Twitter. If you're not on Twitter, then you may not know what something like this means.

According to ChaCha, it takes approximately 1,200 tweets for something to become a trending topic on Twitter. This means that over 1,200 tweets were being spread across the Twitosphere, allowing our messages of 'equality for all' to spread virally across the Web.

According to "What the Hashtag," over 4,200 tweets with the hashtag #prop8 were shared on August 4th and August 5th, 2010. In case you don't know, a hashtag is simply a term that is used to code a tweet so that it can be grouped with other tweets that contain the same tag. The statistic pulled by What the Hashtag only include #prop8 and not other possible iterations like #proposition8 or #equality.


Twitter Delivers Results

According to recent statistics, Twitter has over 26 million users and according to GigaTweet, delivers over 1,000 tweets per second. This type of viral dialogue is what the LGBT community needs in order to spread its 'equality for all' messaging.

In a previous post, I discussed how important social media was for the LGBT equality movement. The use of Twitter for Prop 8 is just one example of how quickly news and information can spread amongst our online communities.

Isn't it time you consider Twitter?

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Hi and welcome to the party Leone!

Twitter has limitless potential as a tool for activism and getting the message out. When Heroes star Greg Grunberg tweeted what many considered transphobic jokes about Chaz Bono, I blogged about it. GLAAD stepped up and put the word out to its followers. It went viral (not sure if it ever trended), eventually resulting in a personal response from Grunberg himself.

Once activists learn how to most effectively leverage Twitter and other social media to best effect in organizing around our goals and issues, it's going to change the face of how political advocacy is done.

Thanks for taking the time to comment Rebecca and special thanks for the warm welcome.

I took a social media class last spring as part of my MS program at NYU. Like many, I was afraid to join the Twittosphere. It seemed silly to me. I used to think, "Who cares what I have to say in 140 characters?" Effectively managing a Twitter account was part of the curriculum.

After 4 months in the course and 2 months flying solo, it turns out that a lot of people care what I have to say. My tweets are re-tweeted and others have used Twitter to engage with me directly. In fact, just the other day I was speaking to someone via Twitter. They tweeted something to the effect of “Not sure how I feel about #Prop8.” I reached out to them to ask him why they felt that way. He and I exchanged some tweets on the issue - it was fantastic. I was able to use Twitter as a tool to engage someone in dialogue about equality that I would never meet in person.

I have interviewed a few LGBT organizations and individuals on their strategic use of social media, including Twitter. I'll be posting those interviews on Bilerico in the weeks to come. These interviews will give Bilerico readers the opportunity to learn how other organizations and individuals are strategically leveraging social media tools and how they are integrating them into their marketing strategy. I hope people enjoy!

It's important, but I don't think that anyone's life would be drastically worsened if they found out about the Prop 8 ruling 10 minutes late.

Great post!

True, their life wouldn't worsen but I rely on social media stuff to keep me connected, so, for me, it does matter. It was incredibly moving to see all of the LGBT equality supporters come together and stand united in a Twitter feed. People were tweeting back and forth to each other - supporting one another in the Twitosphere. Grant it, nothing can take away from the excitement of face-to-face dialogue but there’s something to be said about the powerful reach engaging thousands at once.

By the way, thanks for the props on the post.

Great first official post, Leone! I'll admit, my Twitter usage has dropped considerably over the past month or so. I'm finding myself overwhelmed with blogging, Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, and everything else. Maybe you could explore how to balance everything in a future post?

Bil, it seems you're having a hard time deciding which services to use. I most certainly will explore this issue and more in future posts! I use to suffer from the same thing...

I agree that managing all those services can be really overwhelming, though for Prop 8 news I almost always rely on Twitter (instead of Facebook) to get the latest updates. Mostly because important tweets will have a shortened link to whatever article or source I'm looking for, and it's a lot easier to search. I just found a new site called Cliqset.com (and forgive me if this sound likes spam, it's really not) that consolidates all my social media updates (Google Buzz, Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, and it can pull from over 80 social networks), allowing for a much easier search in one window.

It's amazing to watch how social media affects grassroots campaigns; the queer community is tightly knit already, but Twitter and the entire blogosphere have helped activists reach much, much wider audiences than before.

Alex, thank you so much for the tip on Cliqset. I'll look into this option.

I currently use TweetDeck as my social media aggregator. I try to limit which social media platforms I use since it can all be a bit overwhelming. Somewhere I have De.icio.us account.

Bil asked me to post something on social media tips and how I organize my content. I'll definitely provide some great tips in this blog but it won't be posted for a bit.

Family Radio | August 18, 2010 1:03 PM

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