Is Facebook impacting #RepealThe8th ?

It has been proven time and time again that social media is having an awesome impact on modern societies. Since the invention of the first social networking, SixDegrees  in 1997, the number of these sites and their users has grown exponentially. We now have; Twitter for short status updates, Instagram for uploading our digital photographs, and we have Facebook which does everything other websites do and more.

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A protest against the amendment in 1983

Facebook allows you to connect with friends and family, post status updates and photographs, and create an online profile for yourself on its website. Another component of Facebook that makes it extremely practical in the busy lives of its users is the Create groups or events feature. As member of various societies and clubs in University, I have found that it is these organizations’ Facebook pages that are what keep me informed about events and social gatherings that take place. It is on through a Facebook invitation to the event where I found out about the March for Choice that took place on the twenty third of September 2016.

With thousands of Irish citizens and many Polish citizens in the mix [1], the march for Choice was a success due to the high turnout rate and celebrity appearances along the way showing their support for Irish women [2]. The march also symbolised how the days of total Catholic dominance over every social aspect of this country and its laws are slowing coming to an end, and in its place individual opinions and equal human rights for all are becoming more prevalent. The strict abortion laws in Ireland have become outdated since their introduction to the Irish Constitution as article 40.3.3 in 1983, and also show contradictions with the other main constitutional rights of Irish citizens. Take for example the how the constitution states, with regard to bodily integrity, that neither a person nor the state has the right to harm your life or health. This right is strongly upheld by the state, unless you are a pregnant woman with a fatal foetal abnormality or if you are at risk of taking your own life over a pregnancy, which could result in your death. In this case the state can (and has done so before[3]) refuse you treatment to save your at the cost of the foetus, denying the woman’s right to life. The Irish ban on abortion is even more disturbing in other cases, where both women and young girls alike are being forced to carry their unwanted pregnancies to term, even if they were victims of rape and incest [4][5], unless they can afford to receive the medical care they need and deserve in another state.

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Undoubtedly Repeal the 8th has quickly become one of the most talked about Irish social movements since the referendum on same-sex marriage last year. Despite the fact that many people are becoming more educated on the topic of abortion, I wondered if the broadcasting of the march on any form of social media had any influence over the number of supporters that showed up to the march, compared to the pre-Internet era.

Before the use of the internet and social media websites, the main source of announcement for social movement rallies would have been from the news and word-of-mouth. Although both of these are still relevant today it is a mystery as to how much, if at all Facebook and Twitter had made a difference. In some ways it can definitely be said that these platforms have made a difference in some aspects. The constant status updates about the march may have informed more people who previously may not have known of the event about the date, whereabouts and time it was taking place.

I also know of a few #Repeal supporters who were not entirely sure if they wanted to join in on the march in Dublin, but were encouraged to go when they saw how many others said they were attending the event on Facebook. If this happened to three people I personally knew, then without a doubt they were many more other protestors who decided to go based on the expected turnout.

Although it is clear that social media posts were the deciding factor as to whether to attend the march for some, there are a few other factors that are not related to social media that may also finalised some people’s decisions. Such factors include, but are not limited to; the increased acceptance of abortion in Irish society over the last decade, meaning less people would have felt judged or stigmatized for supporting such a cause, and how the number of Irish women who have to leave the country for an abortion has become common knowledge. This staggering number, which in 2015 came to more than nine women a day [6], is often mentioned on the news whenever a report surrounding the abortion ban and the Real the 8th Amendment movement is made.

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Annie Hoey, USI Vice President, in UCC talking to students about Repealing the 8th

As you can see, it is possible that Facebook and Twitter may have been the reason for the popularity behind the #MarchForRepeal. But it is also possible that it was our modern, less strictly-religion-orientated society that decided it was time to play catch up with other developed countries.

Please feel free to leave your own opinions as to whether or not you think social media is having an impact on social movements below.

References:

[1] “Poland, Ireland & the Fight for a Woman’s Right to Choose – ROSA.” Accessed October 7, 2016. http://rosa.ie/poland-ireland-the-fight-for-a-womans-right-to-choose/.

[2] “Hozier and Cillian Murphy Turned up to March for Choice Today – VIP Magazine.” Accessed October 7, 2016. http://vipmagazine.ie/hozier-and-cillian-murphy-turned-up-to-show-their-support-for-march-for-choice-today/.

[3] “Death of Savita Halappanavar – Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.” Accessed October 8, 2016. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Savita_Halappanavar.

[4] “Abortion & the Irish Constitution | Irish Family Planning Association.” Accessed October 7, 2016. https://www.ifpa.ie/Hot-Topics/Abortion/Abortion-and-the-Irish-Constitution.

[5] “Abortion-and-Ireland-Factfile.pdf.” Accessed October 7, 2016. https://www.ifpa.ie/sites/default/files/documents/briefings/abortion-and-ireland-factfile.pdf.

[6] “Abortion in Ireland: Statistics | Irish Family Planning Association.” Accessed October 7, 2016. https://www.ifpa.ie/Hot-Topics/Abortion/Statistics.

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7 Responses to Is Facebook impacting #RepealThe8th ?

  1. jadwigap says:

    Hi Olive,
    I was wondering: how do you see the murdering of the most innocent members of our society as a positive development?
    Why is murdering a baby seen as something to be campaigned for, while people guilty of murdering adults are given long prison sentences? Do you think we should launch a campaign encouraging paedophiles, rapists, drug dealers and other criminals to allow them to do what they want?
    Why do you think people who stab unborn babies with needles, inject poison into them and cut them apart should be seen as doers of good?

    • admin says:

      Hi Jadwiga, I just wanted to say first of all that I am not happy with your comment here as you have made no argument and what you said is not relevant to the question at play in my post. Instead of crafting a thoughtful response to the blog post you just attacked my personal beliefs and opinions, which was irrational and irrelevant to my blog post which was questioning whether or not social media impacts social movements.
      Now I understand that everyone has different opinions on all sorts of issues, be it due to their religion, personal experiences or family or anything that can influence a persons thoughts, and that is completely fine with me. I believe that everyone has the right to their own opinion and that everyone has a right to freedom of speech, and if someone has something to say to contribute to an argument then I am fully for it. However I take issue to the blasting and the attacking of other people’s opinions and speeches which is what you did. Again you are entitled to your own opinions but I do not appreciate the way you worded your response. This particularly bothers me when false facts are used to further one’s argument.
      You referred to aborting an embryo or a foetus with murdering a baby. When a woman is within the time frame of receiving an abortion then she simply has the embryo either expelled from her uterus either by taking an oral pill, or by safe surgery, again it is not a baby at this point in time. Although during the final trimester when a woman needs to receive a termination either to save her life or if she miscarries and cannot pass the contents of her womb due to medical implications then yes, there is a procedure that involved removing the foetus from the uterus in two separate parts. You also referred to these embryos and foetuses as members of society, which again is incorrect as it is not a person at this stage. Finally, you said that if abortion is legalized then what is to stop people tolerating rape and paedophilia which was not only disgusting but also made no sense. If abortion was so evil and really was seen as baby murder then it would not be legal in all but 19 countries in the world and the UN would not have criticised Ireland’s abortion laws as a violation of a number of constitutional rights of women and girls in this country.
      If you would like to argue any of these points please feel free, but do so in a mature and acceptable manner. And please remember that our future employers will be looking at our blogs and comments we have made in the past.

  2. Rachael says:

    Hi Laoise!
    I recently did a blog post on the use of social media to promote the candidates in the presidential campaign and I absolutely loved this blog post! I was writing on the effects f social media and how it can influence decisions and inspire change The March itself was such an incredible show of solidarity and it’s amazing to think social media could have played a part in rallying numbers! #RepealTheEighth is a topic close to my heart and I thoroughly enjoyed this post examining the link between the march and social media.

    • Laoise Byrne-Ring says:

      Hi Rachael!
      Just read your blog post about Trump and how he used social media to gain followers and supporters during his run for president. It was really interesting to read about how you tied some of his actions on-line to the propaganda that was widespread in Germany during his reign. I never considered how his use of Twitter and Facebook had such an impact on the American public, and to turn them into followers!
      I also think the march for choice was amazing and I was so happy to see so many women and men alike come together for one important purpose!

  3. Pingback: Technology and Trump – rachaellilyblog

  4. Aoife McCabe says:

    Hi Laoise, I just wanted to say I really enjoy and appreciate this post. The repeal the 8th campaign is one that is very important to me and a lot of young woman as they make their way in to the adult world which will have it’s ups and downs and unfortunately for some women may involved an unplanned pregnancy. Although many still may not be in favour due to religious or personal reason it’s always good to be informed and in 2016, social media is the best way for that. Your post is educated and thought-out and so far a favourite of mine. Keep up the good work!

    • Laoise Byrne-Ring says:

      Hi Aoife!
      I really appreciate what you said about the post and I totally agree that every girl goes through a journey into adulthood, and sometimes with unfortunate consequences. Hopefully if we keep pushing the government for a referendum on the topic via social media we will get where we need to be in 2016 some day, and see Irish women granted the rights we deserve!

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