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The Ferguson Effect

 Posted: October 8, 2014, 1:49 a.m.

by Amber Patterson.

It is finally silent. We do not hear that much about Ferguson, Missouri, on the 24-hour news cycle anymore. It’s not a main story we see on news tickers, but most importantly it’s no longer a trending topic on our Twitter feeds.

During the days where the tension of one small town spilled out onto the nation, we saw the power of social media transcend past informing us of the latest technology, fashion trend or celebrity scandal. It became our window into a city in turmoil. We saw powerful images and heard heart-wrenching accounts of injustice. The power of hashtags told a compelling story of the riots that ensued after the officer-involved shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

When it seems that the city of Ferguson went into a media blackout, social media gave the world the raw, uncut footage. Peaceful protesters snapped pictures, tweeted, retweeted and Vined the injustice that plagued their city and simply left the world stunned.

Chain reaction
From the first report of the shooting of Brown, videos and tweets flooded social media, and the story developed rapidly. Instead of changing the channel on the television, people began to refresh their Twitter feeds. The hunger for news on Ferguson became insatiable; the press conferences were not coming fast enough and all the messages seemed too constructed. The police weren’t talking. The president was silent. The public, however, was tweeting and posting videos.

Ferguson has been mentioned more than 6 million times since Saturday, August 9, the day Brown was killed. Multiple hashtags have been sparked, including #IfTheyGunnedMeDown, a social media campaign that exposed the bias in the media when it comes to reporting the deaths of black teens.

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Social media users put the pressure on the Ferguson Police department to release the name of the officer involved in Brown’s death. It showed that the police department was not going to control this story; the public demanded answers and peace was not going to be achieved until they got them.

What is the Ferguson Effect?

Ferguson was a warning shot for this generation. It warned authorities and media that we, as a public, demand transparency. It showed that we are awake and aware. The fight against social injustice has gone beyond the picket lines and right onto the screen of your smartphone. It is something you have to answer to, and it will not be ignored. The revolution will not be televised; it will be broadcast in 140 characters or less.

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