Slacktivism and the social benefits of social video: Sharing a video to ‘help’ a cause
Type of work: Article (academic)
Categories:e-Democracy | Participation
Interest in online ‘slacktivism’ is high both within and outside academia, and the online sharing of cause-related campaigns is increasing, but research into the extent to which ‘slacktivism’ applies to the act of sharing online content to ‘help’ a cause is limited. Slacktivism, as used in much of today’s popular discourse, is defined as ‘feel-good online activism [with] zero political or social impact’ (Morozov, 2009). Here, a survey-based analysis investigates social videos’ impacts on U.K. and U.S. viewers. Results show that the stronger viewers’ motivations are to share to help a cause, the stronger their motivations are to find out more afterwards. Further, a case study shows that social videos that motivate viewers to share the video ‘because it’s for a good cause, and I want to help’ (cause-related sharing versus, for example, to appear knowledgeable about a subject), can also prompt real-life actions, including donations. These results indicate that cause-related video sharing does have an impact, and therefore is not slacktivism by Morozov’s definition. Preliminary analysis suggests that of viewers sharing to ‘help’ causes, those discriminating in their choice of sharing audience (narrow vs. broad) are more likely to further engage than indiscriminate sharers. Result patterns from U.S. narrowcast sharers differ from those of other groups, indicating that tie strength and cultural differences may play a role in modifying slacktivist behaviors.