Larry Magid: Spreading MLK’s Message Through Social Media

SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) — The Internet as we know it didn’t exist in the days of the Civil Rights Movement or Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, but here’s an interesting question: what would it have been like if it were and how would online activism have affected his message?

As the nation remembers Dr. King’s legacy, this is something I wondered from a technology standpoint.

YouTube has been commonly used to record injustices from the Oscar Grant Shooting to the Occupy movement protests that turned to violent clashes with demonstrators and police on the streets of Oakland. Who knows, I’m sure Dr. King would have utilized this technology to his advantage and to widen his audience.

I think his use of civil disobedience was an instrumental tool in his goal of achieving equal rights for blacks in America. As powerful as social media is, I still think King’s strategies were better thought out, calculated and effective.

But by the same token, J. Edgar Hoover (the FBI director during King’s time) would probably have been using the Internet other modern computer technologies to track King’s moves.

It’s pure speculation, but the list what could have been goes on. Would King have used encrypted email to avoid being followed?

We can draw some parallels with what happened with the Arab Spring in 2011 and how social media really mobilized people and got them out in the streets.

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