Disruptive Social Media Moments in…Politics

Tom Liacas —  June 27, 2012 — 10 Comments
Social media networks, through the power they have given to individuals, are by nature disruptive. Not a month goes by these days that we don’t hear of another government or corporation shaken and humbled by a lightning-speed mobilization of online people power. This article is part of a series that seeks to catalog the most notable social media disruptions of politics, business and culture.

This is a draft of a book chapter I want to write. I need your help to fill in blanks as no exhaustive list of these exists. Some of my examples are globally known, some very local to Canada or Québec. I know I am missing some, do you know of others? Please suggest some that you know, however local they may be. I’m interested in all of them!

I am starting with Politics here and will move on in future posts to cover Business and Culture as well.

Student Protests, Casseroles and the Charest Government in Québec.

Starting with an example close to home! The student movement in Quebec, now on strike for over 100 days, filling the streets almost daily with massive protests. After some time, and the addition of casserole clanging, the protests go local to all Montreal neighbourhoods, then spread viral across Canada and… the world. Social media is the organizing tool for all spontaneous protests, the field communications tool, reporting tweets from the street and the evangelizing tool as well.




Arab Spring

Need I say more? Much has been written on the pivotal role of social media in these uprisings. Here, I would love to have some tips for best sites, pages on FB, twitter handles to give some live examples of the social networks in action. Actually, David Millian has done a great job documenting this here in French.


An MIT Technology review article cited by David does a thorough job covering tactical use of social media in the Libyan uprising in English here:


Counting on Najoua Kooli to give me some Tunisian context soon.. Anyone else?


Without social networks and the social web, Wikileaks would never have been the shit-disturbing powerhouse it became. The radical transparency leaked documents have imposed on governments across the world has helped raise the heat on some shady practices (in a good way) while also destroying relationships that were hard won through tact and diplomacy.

Interesting debate on the value (or not) of wikileaks to liberal democracies:


Vic Toews, Vikileaks

As Canadians were facing a proposed law that would violate online privacy in much the same way as SOPA would, a political apparatchik went stealth and created a fake twitter account in name of Vic Toews, Canada’s Minister of Public Safety and main proponent of the new law. This short-lived feed gleefully exposed various details of Toews private life, including supposed excerpts from divorce hearings, to a large public of followers. This feed was read and privately appreciated by many while publicly denounced.

OK so what’s missing, over to you all in the comments section!

Tom Liacas

Tom Liacas

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An M.A. graduate in Media Studies, Tom Liacas is an experienced Social Network Strategist who first cut his teeth creating and managing advocacy campaigns as an activist.
  • The Occupy Movement used (uses?) a variety of social media. I think there is a difference in social media by design and social media used naturally as a means for communication.  The Occupy Movement (as many other examples above) had both. Live video feeds and live blogs of events by design. Tweets warning protesters about impending raids (see Questlove’s Paul Revere moment: http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/11/15/surprise-eviction-at-zuccotti-park-one-twitter-friendly-celebrity-saw-it-coming/)

    Sidenote: U.S. courts order Twitter to hand over occupy tweets, I wonder if Questlove will get a nasty phone call… #carefulyall

    •  Hi Jason, thanks for these valuable links. Even as I published this list I thought doh! forgot to mention Occupy. That is a disruptive political phenomenon if ever there was one and it’s social media footprint is huge. In fact, I am proud to say that it was Adbusters, where I used to work as Campaigns Manager, that got the #occupy hashtag going and, arguably, gave the initial burst of life to the movement. http://www.adbusters.org/campaigns/occupywallstreet

  • Christopher Hayes

    Patrick Brazeau’s Twitter outburst should be on that list
    Vikileaks takes the cake for sure

  • Luke

    Never Seconds is a nice example of low level local disruption and the ability of social networks to make a real impact to small injustices. As well as a great story for showing how anyone regardless of age can make an impact, with the help of the web.

    If your not familiar with the story a 9 year old set up a blog chronicling her school lunches, with in 2 weeks the local council had re-instated their policy to allow unlimited salads, fruit and bread for school lunches. 

    Gizmondo have a nice roundup of the story – http://gizmodo.com/5918656/9+year+old-school-lunch-blogger-silenced-by-politicians

    • TomLiacas

       Thanks for this Luke! Very interesting case study. If we think adults are getting more assertive with social media, wait till the next couple of generations get going!

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  • Najoua Kooli

    avec plaisir! quand tu voudras!!! Najoua

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