Hashtag Activism: Paid ‘Protesters’ And AstroTurf Activists

Image Source: deeterusa.com

It seems that activism, advocacy and protesting have become the “IN” thing these days, but are you being sold a bill of goods? There are a couple of stories breaking right now that illustrate that much of what you are being told to think and believe is being bought and paid for behind the scenes to push an agenda. In the world of social media, hashtags have replaced headlines and that is not necessarily a good thing. Things like Michelle Obama’s #BringBackOurGirls for the girls kidnapped by the Boko Haram terrorist group, #CrimingWhileWhite in response to the case of Eric Garner in NY, #BlackLivesMatter following a series of deaths of young black men or #GunSense the signature hashtag of the Moms Demand Action For Gunsense in America group. How do you tell the legitimate advocacy or protest hashtags from those pushing a paid agenda?

First Lady Obama #BringBackOurGirls (Image Source: mobilizingideas)

First Lady Obama #BringBackOurGirls
(Image Source: mobilizingideas)

Well a new hashtag has emerged that calls many of the past popular hashtags into question, #CutTheCheck. On May 14, protesters, allegedly upset about not being paid their promised checks for the Ferguson protests, protested outside the offices of MORE, Missourians Organizing For Reform and Empowerment. MORE is an offshoot of the ACORN organization which received funding from George Soros. Jeff Ordower, MORE’s founder found himself in the hotseat and on the receiving end of angry protests. You can see a collection of related Tweets and Video on the Weasel Zippers site. Reports are now surfacing that MORE has been paying protesters $5,000 a month to demonstrate in Ferguson. Now those hired protesters who haven’t been paid confronted Ordower in his offices and posted a demand letter online. The new hashtag has drawn both support and criticism in social media circles, with critics pointing out the apparent hypocrisy of paid protesters in what was billed as an authentic reaction to local injustice.

The other hot button issue for activism these days is guns, gun rights vs. gun control. Moms Demand Action is one of the leading advocates for further regulation of firearms, like MORE they are funded by a billionaire backer, Michael Bloomberg. In a video, sure to go viral within the pro-gun community, MDA members and supporters testifying before the Texas Senate can be seen obviously all reading from the same script. Open hearings are meant to give voice to the concerns and opinions of the people of the state, yet like the Ferguson protesters the Moms Demand Action supporters appear to be there to simply fill the testimony time with the same message on repeat. #Nonsense

Whether it is paid protesters pushing an agenda backed by a billionaire with an agenda or “Stepford” Moms backed by a billionaire with an agenda, the media reports it, social media proliferates it and people believe it without doing their due diligence. Repetition is how we learn; reading, seeing, writing and hearing the same thing over and over is how we commit it to memory. Propaganda peddlers know this and exploit it. It is up to us to look beyond the headline or hashtag, beyond the catch phrase or catchy meme and educate ourselves in order to make informed decisions in today’s society.


About the Author

Jon Britton
Joining the U.S. Air Force right out of high school, Jon had the opportunity to experience many different parts of the world and different cultures. His post military career path, both white collar and blue collar, allowed him to work alongside both CEOs and average Joes. "Writing was never a goal or even vaguely contemplated as a career choice, it just happened, an accidental discovery of a talent and a passion." A passion that has taken him in many directions from explorations of the zombie subculture and writing zombie stories to politics and News. He is an avid "people watcher," political junkie and has a ravenous appetite for history and current events alike.