Giving voice: social media usage in the black community
Honoring Black History Month
by Jessica Denson, Communications Director
This February, Connected Nation, like many groups and individuals around the country, is taking time to mark Black History Month.
It is important to remember that it is not only a time to celebrate and lift up Black history makers but also an opportunity to share stories and points-of-view that have often been pushed aside or drowned out through the years by those who traditionally held power.
Connected Nation is rooted in the belief that broadband (high-speed internet) and its related technologies can help improve lives—and empower all of us to make positive changes. That may especially be true for minorities populations.
According to data from the Pew Research Center, the internet and social media play important roles in giving voice to African Americans and the issues that are important to black communities.
In fact, African Americans are using technology at higher rates than other populations to speak out about what matters to them. Nearly three out of four Black social media users (72%)* say they have gone online to post photos to support a cause; encouraged others to take action; sought out information about rallies or protests in their area; or helped share a hashtag related to a social or political issue via social media.
In addition, a majority of African American social media users feel like these tools are effective at changing people’s minds. They cite being active on the outlets as making it possible to influence policy decisions, getting elected officials to pay attention, and raising public awareness about issues that matter to them while creating sustained social movements.
In all of these areas, researchers found that African Americans are more likely to feel like social media is effective than White social media users. Overall, 76% of Blacks said social media helps give a voice to underrepresented groups compared to a little more than half (58%) of White social media users. At the same time, 81% of White social media users felt social platforms had negative effects compared to 70% of Black social media users.
This is, perhaps, because social media platforms give minorities easier access to a public forum and media outlets that might not have always been as available and open to their stories.
But no matter what the reason is these data points are another indication of why we must work hard at ensuring ALL people have access to the internet and its related technologies.
This year, Connected Nation is celebrating 20 years of service and we are more motivated than ever, by this and other critical research, to expand the access, adoption, and use of broadband. Our mission remains focused on closing the Digital Divide for ALL people—no matter who they are, where they live, or where they began.
Everyone belongs in a Connected Nation.
*Source: Pew Research Center blog (Dec 11, 2020), “Social media continue to be important political outlets for Black Americans.”
Other Black History Month Articles
- Meet "The Fairy Godmother of Tech Start-ups"
- Building equal experiences
- African Americans who have worked to advance technology for all
- African American history maker in tech: Roy L. Clay
- Moving the needle: Closing the internet access gap among African Americans