Use of social media in the Wisconsin protests

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The use of social media, over the past few years, has changed from social conversation to being directly used in major issues. An example of this is the use of social media in the 2011 Wisconsin protests over public unions that occurred during February and March 2011. Both sides of this debate used various social media networks to get their message out, in an attempt to convince others to join their cause. Many organizations around the country joined this use of social media to voice their own opinions about labor issues in Wisconsin. With the use of these mediums, this issue quickly went from a state issue to one on the national and even international stage.



The Pro-Union side used many forms of social media, attempting to sway public opinion and to organize protests. The group called "Wisconsin Students for Solidarity" organized a national student walkout, via a Facebook page, to take place on March 11. An attorney named Bill Mahler decided to close his law firm early on March 11 as well, to show support for the Unions. With the use of his blog, and Twitter account, he was able to get the message out in an attempt to convince other law firms to do the same. The interesting part was that Mahler's firm was not located in Wisconsin, but in Seattle, Washington. This shows that the internet, and social media, allow issues confined to geographic areas, the ability to take a national or world-wide stage. These protests, and actions, have had positive effects in other states for opponents of the bill in Wisconsin. Indiana Republicans recently dropped a similar bill, under pressure from Indiana Democrats and other union supporters.

Governor Walker and supporters[edit]

Governor Scott Walker used Twitter to state his ideas, communicate with those who agreed with him and allow those who did not, to respond. Some of the tweets have even been looked at as actively negotiating with the Unions, by some writers. His supporters used the same types of social media to drum up support, around not only Wisconsin, but the entire nation, just as the opposition had done. One website, "," had a petition set up on their website, available for those who agreed with Walker, to sign. This site also had Twitter updates and a link to a Facebook page. Other major political figures have also used the internet to voice their support for the governor. Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty posted a video and started a petition on his website. Also, former Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, posted a public appeal on a conservative website.


On Twitter, people used the hashtag "#wiunion" to tag tweets related to the protests.


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