My Facebook newsfeed was ablaze as I scrolled through countless posts ending in #Ferguson, #BlackLivesMatter, and #HandsUpDontShoot. Moments earlier, a Missouri court had ruled not to indict police officer Darren Wilson for the August 2014 shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed young black man. Friends of mine had swiftly taken to the internet to voice their outrage, disgust, and demands for action. Within minutes of the decision, millions of similar posts had already surged across the Internet -- but the public outcry didn’t stop there. An hour later, a rumble of angry feet and commanding voices made its way up to my eighth floor NYC apartment. “White and Brown Peace!” they cried, flooding the streets. The magnitude of the protests was unprecedented. Marching south, crowds of people branched out even further from the intended locations of Union and Times Squares, spilling into Lafayette Street towards lower Manhattan. Like the notably social media-savvy Arab Spring and “Occupy” movements before them, the Ferguson protests showcased the unexpected power of hashtag activism. They remind us that a limited number of characters can quickly motivate masses of people. Additionally, they sparked a national debate that deviated from the norm by originating from the ground-up rather than from the top-down. Gone are the days when powerful news and media corporations dictated the terms of the conversation. Today, the power to frame and convey increasingly rests in the hands of average citizens and their keyboards.
The hashtag began in 2007 when Twitter users started categorizing their posts with a “#” followed by a label so that similar posts could be more easily identified. For instance, one could search #ComicCon to find a series of posts related to that event. By 2009, Twitter officially integrated the feature. Due to its popularity, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram, and numerous other social networks also adopted it. (Dewey) Eventually, activists repurposed the hashtag into ironic or poignant slogans as a new way to mobilize protests. This practice helped fuel significant movements like the 2009 Green Revolution in Iran and the 2010 UKUncut protests (Hill). By 2011, the news media coined this type of protesting as “Hashtag Activism” often with a negative connotation suggesting the use of these hashtags was lazy and ineffectual. Yet despite these criticisms, many of these hashtag campaigns have had concrete effects beyond just raising awareness. (Dewey) Looking at the social media response to Ferguson further highlights this. There, categorizing viral videos, images, and posts encouraged participation and discussion between both the people online and those protesting on the streets. In this article I will first discuss how the hashtag has become a powerful new linguistic innovation used by activists to shift public discourse in a tradition of “culture jamming” – activism using parodies of mass media, advertising, and memes to inspire change. Then, I will examine the specific discourse related to the shooting of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri organized through hashtags in order to weigh the benefits and drawbacks of this emerging activism.
The Semiotics and Discursive Formations of the Hashtag
As a linguistic innovation, the hashtag demonstrates a newly emergent code within the digital language. It is unique in that it also has the potential to change the political discourse in any country where the Internet is easily accessed. To understand this semiotic phenomenon, I will use Stuart Hall’s foundational essay “The Work of Representation” to show how the hashtag may be conceptualized in the study of media and language. Hall might see the hashtag from his Constructionist approach as an example of the social character of language. This approach “acknowledges that neither things in themselves nor the individual users of language can fix meaning in language.” (177) Hashtags, interestingly, are composed of a combination of words that already have established meanings in society, but when combined together with the hashtag prefix, a new meaning arises through the social media conversations in which they are used.
For instance the word #BlackLivesMatter consists of the phrase “black lives matter” which out of context makes a vague, simple statement. But when used as a hashtag, it becomes a word that criticizes systemic racial injustice faced by blacks in the United States referring to the shooting of Mike Brown and now the murder of Eric Garner, another black victim of police brutality in New York. This hashtag and other activist hashtags like it have taken on symbolic meanings according to a code established in social conversations. As Hall says:
The meaning is not in the object or person or thing, nor is it in the word. It is we who fix the meaning so firmly that, after a while, it comes to seem natural and inevitable. The meaning is constructed by a system of representations. It is constructed and fixed by the system of repetition (175).
In the case of #BlackLivesMatter, we have fixed a new meaning onto these three conjoined words to refer to a specific event and power dynamic in our society through various media representations. Unlike newly coined words in the past, these hashtags can rapidly acquire an established meaning through repetition on social media. The masses tag their videos, images, or posts with these viral hashtags and they become established concepts, sometimes in a matter of days, often in conjunction with street protests and news coverage. At the same time, they may be more transient than a formal word in the dictionary. More like slogans, they are used for protests for a month or perhaps a year and then fade into historical irrelevancy. #BlackLivesMatter has the potential to continue to exist due to its general applicability, but a hashtag like #JusticeForMikeBrown will probably not stand the test of time as the memory of Mike Brown becomes a historical footnote. Only through continued repetition in media representations could a new word like a hashtag survive and even possibly enter everyday speech (such as internet argotic meme #win/winning used by millennials in spoken conversation).
After these new words in the form of hashtags start trending on social media, regular people, news anchors, and politicians then adopt them to discuss the issues of the day across different media. They enter into what Foucault described as ‘discourse’: complex power relations created through knowledge in society. Hall summarizes Foucault’s usage of the term:
What interested [Foucault] were the rules and practices that produced meaning in different historical periods. By ‘discourse,’ Foucault meant ‘a group of statements which provide a language for talking about – a way of representing the knowledge about – a particular topic at a particular historical moment... Discourse is about the production of knowledge through language” (“The Work of Representation” 186).
Activist hashtags very clearly fall into “a group of statements that provides a language” to represent knowledge for a “particular historical moment.” From Ferguson-related hashtags a new “discursive formation” is arising that produces a counter-hegemonic knowledge. It does so by unveiling the systemic marginalization of and discrimination against African Americans. #BlackLivesMatter, #JusticeForMikeBrown, #HandsUpDontShoot, etc. are starting conversations both online and off about racial inequality. Discursive formations like this occur across a range of texts sharing the same style and supporting the same drift in institutional power arrangements (186). Illustrating this point, the Ferguson discursive formation organized around hashtags that challenge white police brutality and privilege has jumped from social media posts, images, and videos to other texts like television, speeches, newspapers, and protests (Hsieh and Rakia, Poniewoziek). From this discourse people are producing new knowledge that attempts to changes power relations within society.
In Foucault’s view, knowledge and the power that stems from it does not just radiate from the top down, but rather permeates all of society. Both oppressor and oppressed participate in a dialogue that produces the knowledge which regulates personal conduct through what Foucault calls ‘the apparatus and its technologies’: “discourses, institutions, architectural arrangements, regulations, laws, administrative measures, scientific statements, philosophic propositions, morality, philanthropy...etc.” (“The Work of Representation” 189). Since both oppressor and oppressed participate in this discourse, knowledge and the power relations that result from it are in constant flux. Hall summarizes, “This led Foucault to speak, not of the absolute ‘Truth’ of knowledge in the absolute sense – a Truth which remained so, whatever the period, setting, context, but of a discursive formation sustaining a regime of truth” (189). Hashtag activism when looked at through this lens demonstrates how current regimes of Truth are contested by new discursive formations created by the oppressed. New knowledge is trying to supplant the old in order to redress inequalities that oppressors would rather keep hidden.
A historic example in hashtag activism of this type of discursive battle can be seen in the protests organized around #Slutwalks. This movement which began in Canada organized women to march wearing “slutty” clothes in order to fight against victim- blaming that men, especially police, often use to condemn women for inviting sexual harassment. Due to their clever subversion of provocative clothing, these activists were tremendously successful in attracting thousands to protest, receiving mainstream media coverage, and inspiring walks in other countries such as the US and Mexico. But more importantly, they were redefining the received knowledge concerning “sluts”:
Some Slutwalkers said the word was appropriate to draw attention to the attitudes exemplified by victim-blaming police and politicians. Others felt that they were reclaiming a word previously used as an insult, in the way that many gay, bisexual and trans people – as well as some others – call themselves ‘queer’ and some disabled activists use the word ‘crip.’ (Hill 50)
The Slutwalkers made the derogatory word “slut” into an empowering style of dress that challenged the absurdity of victim-blaming. Although the existing regime of truth which continues to obscure the abuse of women is still in place, this new discursive formation and future ones like it are intended to shift power relations until the world is a safer place for women.
Other famous hashtag activists campaigns – Iran’s Green Revolution, #UKUncut, the revolutions labeled as the Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street, #StandWithPP, #Kony2012, #BringBackOurGirls, and now #Ferguson – were all distinctly different protests resulting from different social issues (which all cannot be discussed adequately within the scope of this paper). Some like #Kony2012 and #BringBackOurGirls were misguided and problematic Western do-gooder expressions of sentiment (Dewey). Others like #UKUncut resulted in actual legislative reforms closing tax loopholes abused by corporations (Hill 39). What they all had in common, however, was their discursive formation organized around the hashtag. Social media was a unique tool that allowed their messages to spread around the world. Hill in his book Digital Revolutions: Activism in the Internet Age discusses the significance of a this emerging form of protest:
Hashtag activism – ‘networked horizontalism’ to use the academic language – allows tactics to be replicated around the world while adapting to local conditions. It helps people of varied cultures and circumstances to take an issue with international significance and make a splash in their own country, city, or town” (56).
In a non-hierarchical manner, these national and transnational campaigns can be taken up by grassroots activists around the world and replicate themselves. Compelling hashtags can in this way transcend localities and be repurposed to assault entrenched regimes of truth anywhere.
Grammar Lesson: The Ironic Hashtag and Culture Jamming
Hashtag activism, however, is not limited to hashtags that organize a protest like #Slutwalks or those that express a flippant commitment to a cause like #BringHomeOurGirls. They can also use satire to assault the regime of truth. I argue hashtags are linguistic innovations of the 21st century for three reasons: they are new words with their own socially established meanings, products of rapid crowd sourcing on social media, and a new part of speech exclusively for language on the Internet. I will now explain more thoroughly this last concept, the grammatical usage of the hashtag and how it relates to “culture jamming.” First it should be noted that all hashtags are inherently digital and social when written. Each is a hyperlink. When used on social media platforms it links to related posts utilizing the same hashtag making each hashtag a ‘networked’ part of speech. However, these hashtags can function differently in the grammar of social media posts in three ways:
An adjective used after a post that categorizes the whole statement. Example: “We can’t let racial injustice last forever in this country #Ferguson”
A noun used within a statement with its normal meaning. Example: “The events at #Ferguson are deeply disturbing”
An ironic punchline to an established joke formula, in the tradition of the internet meme. Example below.
This last usage I find to be arguably the most interesting as it seems to capture the zeitgeist of this digital generation’s satirical, ironic humor online. While ironic hashtags can sometimes seem trivial, they can also sometimes make a point. For an example of this type of usage, consider the meme #FirstWorldProblems. It has spawned its own website (www.first-world-problems.com) that aggregates user-submitted iterations of a simple joke formula utilizing the hashtag punch line. Here is how it is used: “The pizza box doesn’t fit in my fridge. #FirstWorldProblems #FWP.” Basically in this iterative formula a privileged member of the First World complains about their insignificant problems, while it is implied that the “Third World” is legitimately suffering – lacking necessities like food, water, and shelter. Memes like this have create this secondary grammatical usage of the hashtag – the ironic punch line form which acts as both hyperlinked category and signifier indicating that this is a humorous statement. This clever grammatical usage of the hashtag like #FirstWorldProblems uses humor to put a privileged first worlder’s life in a global perspective.
This secondary ironic use of the hashtag is very much in the tradition of culture jamming which seeks to take mass mediated forms and parody them to make a statement. As Jamie Warner explains in Political Culture Jammers, this type of satire has arisen due to the increased branding in the politics of today:
In the past two decades, politicians have increasingly utilized what are known as “branding’ techniques of commercial marketers to just such an end, in the hopes of persuading the citizen/consumer to trust their “product” – their platform and policy positions – to the exclusion of others. These branding techniques, relying on emotional rather than rational appeals, are used in the attempt to achieve automatic, unreflective trust in the branded product...” (194).
Culture jamming intends to fight these branded emotional messages with parodies of them. Warner’s example is the Daily Show which parodies mainstream news shows in order to “highlight political ‘leverage points’: factual errors, logical contradictions, and incongruities in the dominant political brand messages and the media that disseminates them” (197). This “rhetorical sabotage” (195) seeks to use satirical discourse in order to undermine the current regime of truth and change it. Ironic hashtags similarly use emotional messages like the witty branded hashtags of corporations, but use them to expose issues in the world through satire. John Oliver, a former correspondent on the Daily Show, for instance coined his own hashtag, #puppyjustice, on his new show Last Week Tonight:
This hashtag acted as a both categorizer and punch line for a new meme. By providing stock videos of dogs dressed up as supreme court justices, John Oliver gave his viewers the ability to remix the footage over every boring supreme court case audio recording in order to make them watchable and more interesting (since video cannot actually be recorded within the court chambers). His main intention in creating this hashtag was to try to make news, especially regarding important Supreme Court decisions, more accessible, transparent, and interesting.
Culture Jamming hashtags like #FirstWorldProblems and #PuppyJustice are both spreading counterhegemonic discourse through satire by coopting the medium of the hashtag frequently used as marketing tool of big corporations. While neither are particularly strong calls to action that result in protests in the street, they do slowly alter the regime of truth by giving the public concepts that unveil unjust power relations. With this humorous usage of the hashtag in mind, I will examine in the following section specific creative uses of the hashtag by grassroots culture jammers in the discourse around Ferguson.
The War of Culture Jamming Hashtags
Ferguson, unlike protests before it, has generated numerous creative hashtags, which have attempted to expose systemic racial injustice – through culture jamming social media. I have already addressed two of the early hashtags used to mobilize and categorize discourse: #Ferguson, a general categorizing hashtag for discussions about Ferguson neutral to political orientation, and #BlackLivesMatter, a slogan used by activist on social media to express solidarity with the cause of overcoming racial injustice. These terms function much like #OWS for Occupy Wall Street and #JusticeForTrayvon, an earlier activist hashtag concerning a young black man shot by police in 2012. But with the Ferguson protests there has been the emergence of clever ironic hashtags that humorously and poignantly convey serious societal issues: #HandsUpDontShoot, #IfTheyGunnedMeDown, #CrimingWhileWhite, and #AliveWhileBlack. I will address each of these, then a few rival hegemonic hashtags, and finally address some benefits and drawbacks of this type of discursive formation.
This activist hashtag brilliantly demonstrated the potential of the ironic punch line form of the hashtag that can be used as physical form of protest in the real world. Not only does #HandsUpDontShoot “joke” about how quick cops are to shoot African Americans, it also inspires a simple physical action of the body that protests racial injustice. As seen above, a Twitter user tags the Saint Louis Rams for showing their support of the Ferguson protests. They hold their hands up symbolizing their solidarity with #HandsUpDontShoot protests to garner more national media attention for the cause. These images are then captured and recirculated under the hashtag to reach an even wider audience. Much like the old “planking” meme, it is a position that can be replicated by anyone and shared on social networks to show support. As Foucault claims, their bodies are participating in discourse:
Of course this ‘body’ is not simply the natural body.... This body is produced within discourse, according to the different discursive formations – the state of knowledge about crime and the criminal, what counts as ‘true’ about how to change or deter criminal behavior, the specific apparatus and technologies of punishment prevailing at the time” (“The Work of Representation” 190).
These football players and protesters alike are using their bodies to change what is considered “criminal behavior.” This hashtag takes an action that signifies surrender to cops at gunpoint and subverts it. The action itself encourages a nonviolent protest that dares cops to brutally shoot down peaceful black people, the very injustice they are protesting against. By exposing police brutality in the form of a meme that circulates both online and off, #HandsUpDontShoot demonstrates a new culture jamming discourse conducted through hashtags.
Another hashtag in the discourse around Ferguson that uses a meme format to make a point, #IfTheyGunnedMeDown highlights the media misrepresentation of young black boys and men like Mike Brown who are often tried by the public just by the photos the media selects to represent their lives, often categorized as “thugs.” They are attacking the very type of inferred racism discussed by Stuart Hall:
Yet every word and image of such [news] programmes are impregnated with unconscious racism because they are all predicated on the unstated and unrecognized assumption that the blacks are the source of the problem. Yet virtually the whole of ‘social problem’ television about race and immigration – often made, no doubt, by well intentioned and liberal minded broadcasters – is precisely predicated on racist premises of this kind... (“The Whites of Their Eyes” 106)
So often black men are presented as “thugs” in the media regardless of who they actually inferring they are “the source of the problem.” #IfTheyGunnedMeDown allows any black man to compare two photos of himself (seen above), one that would make him look like a positive citizen and another that would label him a thug. Through photos shared with this hashtag, black men across the country can criticize misrepresentation as well as broaden positive images of a multi- dimensional life.
#CrimingWhileWhite and #AliveWhileBlack
These two hashtags demonstrate the potential of a hashtag to become a dialogue that exposes the double standards cops in their treatment of whites and blacks. #CrimingWhileWhite was begun by Jason Ross, former writer for The Daily Show, a culture jammer himself. He confesses to crimes he got away with as a white teenager and suggests other people do the same using the hashtag. It took off and was then further bolstered by news publications like Time, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Gaurdian. It allows what Washington Post writers Drew Harwell and Danielle Panquiette argue can be at best deeply personal stories that allow white Americans to better identify with the protesters in the street and at worst,
...the tweets amounted to a bragging board, another point of isolation over which blacks and whites stood irrevocably apart. Like many protests, the venue contributed to the chaos: on Twitter, the boundless flurry of 140-character sentiment appeared detached from conversation and context-free.
Some, like the editor of Ebony magazine, Jamilah Lemieux, felt that the hashtag was well intentioned but also shifted the conversation away from people of color and their experience. To counter she created the hashtag #AliveWhileBlack that offered a similar forum for black to tell their stories of harassment by cops:
#CrimingWhileWhite and #AliveWhileBlack demonstrate the potential of hashtag activism to create counter-hegemonic discursive formations that, before social media, might never have been voiced at the national level.
While these past four hashtags promoted a counter-hegemonic discourse, the following two hashtags examples show that hashtag activism is not necessarily a united front. In the first case, a hashtag reinforces the hegemonic regime of truth and in the second a hashtag muddles and confuses the debate.
In response to #JusticeForMikeBrown, conservative minded Twitter users, fighting against the wave of support for the protesters at Ferguson online created their own hashtag: #JusticeForDarrenWilson. They attempted to sideline the conversation on race in favor of a discussion on upholding the rule of law and honoring policemen for their sacrifices. Jeff, the Twitter author above, uses the altered hashtag perpetuating the inferred racist discourse that labels black people as “thugs” and displaying his political disposition by tagging the post #JusticeForDarrenWilson. This demonstrates the social media is just a tool – not in favor of activists on either the left or the right, hegemonic or counter-hegemonic. And it is no doubt a sign of future activist hashtag Twitter wars in the future.
In response to #BlackLivesMatter, Twitter posters (many of them white) created an alternative hashtag called #AllLivesMatter which they deemed more egalitarian. This hashtag, however, has been used both support and condemn the protests. Of all the hashtags discussed, it is the most confused and problematic. Some use it both in conjunctions with #BlackLivesMatter to show their support of equality for all races while more often than not, it is used to debate which term should be used (as pictured above). Those Twitter users like Adrian Patterson see it as counterproductive to reframe the debate in this way because it takes the emphasis off the marginalization African Americans and makes a more bland statement advocating for equality. These debates that surround the hashtag demonstrate a possible limitation I will discuss next of section – the lack of quality control of this mediated hashtag discourse.
Conclusion: Pros and Cons of Hashtag Activism Around Ferguson
These two discursive formations, one hegemonic and one counter-hegemonic, demonstrate Foucault’s concept of discourse in action. Both oppressor and oppressed are participating in a dialogue and competing to affirm or replace knowledge in the regime of truth. But whether this discourse conducted on social media will result in significant change over time is yet to be seen. Like most new technologies, hashtags come with both their benefits and drawbacks.
The hashtag is revolutionizing activism in positive ways. As Hill writes in Digital Revolutions the Internet and hashtag activism have benefits such as:
It has made it easier for people to see the truth that the powerful would rather hide, to learn from activists on the other side of the world, to co-ordinate campaigns without hierarchy and to expose governments and corporations to public ridicule (14).
By circumventing powerful institutions like the media and government, hashtag activism has allowed for a rival discursive formation to compete for the regime of truth. It has also allowed anyone with an Internet connection to protest online or organize a real world protest in his or her hometown. Best of all it is nimble: Internet networks can coordinate action much faster than hierarchical intuitions like states and corporations can react (Hill 57). This means that social media protests and conversations can spring up rapidly before the media and the government can control them.
At the same time, hashtag activism has some issues. Most importantly, it may not necessarily encourage true conversation in which both sides of debate engage. One blog Quartz did sampled 200,000 tweets labeled #Ferguson to show how much conversation is actually occurring between liberal (blue) and conservative (red) political Tweeters. Points of intersections on the chart below show how often they tweeted at each other:
This graphic might suggest that hashtag activism is a shouting match rather than a discussion. Conservatives tweet angrily about the need to respect cops and the law while liberals post about the need to end systemic racial injustice. When they did talk, they were more likely to “spray vitriol” at each other than have a constructive conversation (Pierson). These two polarized groups could just be experiencing the echo-chamber effect, only hearing what they want to hear from the politically likeminded they are subscribed to on their social networks. If this is the case, then the most creative tactics like #IfTheyGunnedMeDown that have humorous meme- like and newsworthy qualities may be the most successful in that they actually make the news and thus reach a wider audience. Unfortunately these clever hashtags also have the potential to be co-opted. Political marketers may just focus group the best hashtags and pour millions into marketing them in the next election. Since the origins of hashtags are not always clear, corporations could seed hashtags made to look like they were authentically crowd sourced. Additionally as addressed above in discussion of #AllLivesMatter, since there is no hierarchy there is also no quality control. Conversations can become confused as millions try to iterate and participate. In the case of Ferguson, white people co-opted a conversation about the experience of black Americans, sometimes in support of general racial equality and other times using it to support the white police. This fragmentation and lack of focus in the conversation detracts from the suffering and marginalization of black Americans.
With both these benefits and drawbacks in mind, hashtags become all the more fascinating to study as they evolve. In the midst of the developing Ferguson protests as they happen, I have found hashtag activism is incredibly fluid and consequently difficult to capture; it is an ever-evolving conversation of millions. While a few hashtags trend to the top and made the news, there were thousands more created and talked about around the Twittersphere. But even in this confusing sea of tweets, hashtags that have floated to the top like #Slutwalks, #FirstWorldProblems, #IfTheyGunnedMeDown, have proved that these new words are linguistic innovation in 21st century political discourse. By assigning new symbolic meaning to combinations of words, hashtags create new words that can act as tools of rhetorical protests, much like slogans. But these new “words” transcend slogans in that they are inherently networked in a public conversation online. Taking advantage of this, grassroots activists can use the hashtag to mobilize protests on the streets as seen with hashtags like #Ferguson and #BlackLivesMatter. Or, alternatively, they can be used to satirize hegemonic discourse through culture jamming as seen with #HandsUpDontShoot, #IfTheyGunnedMeDown, #CrimingWhileWhite, and #AliveWhileBlack. By using ironic hashtags that create memes, hashtags around Ferguson demonstrated the powerful potential of this new kind of accelerated, bottom-up discourse that disrupts the entrenched regime of truth. As Hall explains eloquently:
One of the ways in which ideological struggle takes place and ideologies are transformed is by articulating the elements differently, thereby producing a different meaning: breaking the chain in which they are currently fixed and establishing a new articulation. This ‘breaking of the chain’ is not, of course, confined to the head: it takes place through social practice and political struggle. (“The Whites of Their Eyes” 104)
In their “social practice and political struggle,” activists are using hashtags to transform ideologies by disrupting chains of meaning and articulating them differently. The creative hashtag activism of Ferguson has done this by opening and elevating numerous possibilities for conversing about a formerly suppressed discourse. Even in an advanced, politically jaded democracy such as ours, the hashtag has managed to inspire clever new tactics that reignite public interest in activism and democratic participation.
Dewey, Caitlin. "#Bringbackourgirls, #Kony2012, and the Complete, Divisive History of ‘hashtag Activism’." Washington Post. The Washington Post, 8 May 2014.Web. 01 Dec. 2014.
Hall, Stuart. "The Whites of Their Eyes: Racist Ideologies and the Media." Gender, Race,and Class in Media: A Text-reader. By Gail Dines and Jean McMahon Humez. 4th ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2015. 104-107. Print.
Hall, Stuart. "The Work of Representation." The Media Studies Reader. By Laurie Ouellette. New York: Routledge, 2013. 171-96. Print.
Harwell, Drew, and Danielle Paquette. "The Surprising Origins of the#CrimingWhileWhite Movement." Washington Post. The Washington Post, 4 Dec. 2014. Web. 09 Dec. 2014.
Hill, Symon. Digital Revolutions: Activism in the Internet Age. Oxford, GBR: New Internationalist, 2013. ProQuest ebrary. Web. 1 December 2014.
Hsieh, Steven, and Raven Rakia. "After #Ferguson." The Nation [New York City] 27 Oct. 2014: 18-21. Print.
Pierson, Emma. "See How Red Tweeters and Blue Tweeters Ignore Each Other on Ferguson." Quartz. Quartiz, 25 Nov. 2014. Web. 09 Dec. 2014.
Poniewozik, James. "#IfTheyGunnedMeDown and What Hashtag Activism Does Right."Time Magazine. Time Inc. Network, 11 Aug. 2014. Web. 1 Dec. 2014.
Warner, Jamie. "Political Culture Jamming: The Dissident Humor of The Daily Show With Jon Stewart." Gender, Race, and Class in Media: A Text-reader. By Gail Dines and Jean McMahon Humez. 4th ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2015. 194-202. Print.