In the current acquisition binge around artificial intelligence, tech behemoths with deep pockets lead the way, including Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon, Intel, Microsoft, Twitter, and Salesforce. The only one with a limited consumer-facing presence is social monitoring firm Meltwater.

Activism in the Social Media Age

This month marks the fifth anniversary of the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag, which was first coined following the acquittal of George Zimmerman in the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin. In the course of those five years, #BlackLivesMatter has become an archetypal example of modern protests and political engagement on social media: A new Pew Research Center analysis of public tweets finds the hashtag has been used nearly 30 million times on Twitter – an average of 17,002 times per day – as of May 1, 2018.

1. Public attitudes toward political engagement on social media

Social media use has grown rapidly over the last decade. Today, Americans use a range of social media sites and are increasingly turning to these platforms to get news and information. Social networking sites have also emerged as a key venue for political debate and discussion and at times a place to engage in civic-related activities.

Along with conducting a survey of public attitudes toward political engagement and activism on social media, the Center also performed a separate analysis of several Twitter hashtags. First, it examined the volume of tweets using the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag and other hashtags related to issues, causes or news events to see how usages differ over time and across issue areas. Second, it conducted a content analysis of the topics that are most often mentioned in conversations around the #BlackLivesMatter, #BlueLivesMatter and #AllLivesMatter hashtags during major news events.

The #BlackLivesMatter hashtag has been a relatively consistent presence on Twitter for the last five years, with periodic increases in usage around key events

A number of these experts wrote about both sides of the story, taking the time to point out some of the ways in which digital life is a blessing and a curse. A selection of these mixed-response anecdotes follows.

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