The Internet has given activists the ability to rally people from all corners of the world for a specific cause. Digital platforms like social media, email, blogs and websites have provided a way to deliver information instantly, to unprecedentedly large audiences. And these days, Internet activists have even more powerful tools for reaching out and informing the masses: data visualization and video. Both of which can easily backfire if used incorrectly. Videos that come off too strong or biased, without the proper presentation of data to back it up, result in poor mobilization and negative reception. Remember KONY 2012? The video went viral and got more than 96 million views, but it didn’t come close to its goal of bringing down Joseph Kony. Rather, it inversely worked to expose its creator, Jason Russell, after a nude public mishap. Instead of showing data to support the evident case for Kony’s arrest, this video chooses to tug at your heartstrings by beginning the story with Russell’s toddler talking about the bad guy, Kony, and giving a face to child abduction. One thing KONY 2012 did succeed in was showing the power of the internet and people’s compassion for bringing social injustices to light, regardless if their activism stops at a like or share — people are now more informed. Motion graphics can be an effective tool for highlighting social injustices and organizing people around various social movements. Real data that’s presented in an easy-to-digest, visual way can put certain injustices and inequalities into perspective, without relying on an emotional reaction. Here are three excellent examples of how motion graphics can propel social activism into the forefront of Internet users and transform them into more aware human beings, capable of change. (All three were produced via the Visually Marketplace.)
This motion graphic takes a look at the violent war against Mexican drug cartels happening across the U.S. border. Rather than blaming Mexico or the United States for the violence occurring, it uses data to make people question the larger systems and relations at play, resulting in what the media portrays as Mexico’s unilateral problem.
It’s often easier to critique issues outside of our everyday environment, but we should be addressing our own first. The prison-industrial complex is becoming more difficult to deny as our inmate population is skyrocketing with no end in sight. This motion graphic does a great job of explaining the misuse of resources by arresting nonviolent offenders and creates a call to action by comparing this epidemic to that of Portugal.
Motion graphics can be used to show social change over time and show how important it is to take part in social activism. This inspiring video highlights the fundamentals and timeless principles of grassroots organizing. Internet activism matters. Data alone does not move people to organize, nor does exploiting emotional reactions. Separate, these ways of presenting a movement can only go so far. Together, data visualization and social activism are proving to be a fruitful combination, helping spread awareness for a myriad of social injustices and mobilizing the public around specific causes. The surface of this fusion is just beginning to be explored. How will you contribute to progress your world? Stephanie Castillo is the digital marketing intern at Visually. She has a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and History of Art and Visual Culture from University of California, Santa Cruz. Follow her on Twitter: @StephanieIvania.