Instagram as a Platform for Social Change: Inspiring Movements and Activism

Make it Better, Buy a Magazine!

Current Issue

When Instagram debuted in 2010, it was not what most would call a political platform. It was a place where people posted what they ate for lunch or where they were traveling next, all with unique filters and a laundry list of hashtags.

However, as the Internet became more socially aware, so did Instagram’s audience. Instagram became a place where people could record amateur journalism, post political memes, and create challenges to spread awareness about social media causes.

So, let’s look at a brief history of Instagram activism. Before we begin, we should mention that boosting your posts, activist or not, is essential, and you can buy cheap Instagram likes at to grow your profile.

There Were Always Politics on Instagram

We should first stress that Instagram always had politics on the platform, primarily through political outlets taking advantage of a new app.

One example was the Washington Post’s 2012 Unfiltered campaign, where users could submit pictures from the campaign trail of the 2012 US Presidential Election.

However, a year earlier, Instagram was still being used for political activism, less than a year into its inception. Occupy Wall Street, a 2011 protest against economic inequality, used Instagram to showcase many goings-on, including what many believed to be unlawful eviction of protesters.

In a way, this was foreshadowing what was to come. More people were getting the ability to create content from anywhere, and PR campaigns didn’t exclusively gatekeep political rallies.

Of course, it was a niche at the time. However, 2012 was the early start of the social justice era, where many would begin to see Instagram being used for something more. This time was when the algorithm changed, and the activism started to propel forward, bringing forth awareness not just of causes, but of also ways others can get involved to help push the cause forward.

The Rise in Social Justice Activism

In a way, Instagram is a platform that grew with its audience. Many early adopters were teens and young adults who did not have a care in the world. However, as they grew up, their awareness of injustice, either in their own lives or the lives of others, started to take root.

One reason is how easy it is to spread information on social media. It used to be that causes often had no outlet to express themselves except in their local areas. However, through social media, it is possible to go beyond their local audience and even reach people who did not know about certain injustices in the first place.

Another way Instagram helped? By simplifying information. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. Many artists could use Instagram to showcase thought-provoking art or photography that generally could not be spread as fast as before.

In addition, Instagram also made it easy to post infographics. As the name implies, these are graphic images that convey information. Activism infographics may give some shocking statistics about wealth inequality or condense a situation of injustice into an easy-to-read format.

Infographics are also powerful because they can utilize aesthetics that make them eye-catching to users, either by using certain font choices or aesthetics used by big-named brands.

Memes were also a valuable tool. They could convey information in a single picture or be used to capture people’s attention through the power of humor.

2020 and Instagram Activism

For many, 2020 was the turning point in social media activism. The COVID-19 pandemic meant that many were staying at home and were much more online than ever before. At that time, many used social media to spread awareness about the disease and use it to call out anyone who was not looking out for the public good.

2020 was also the year of the Black Lives Matter protests, and Instagram and other social media platforms played an essential part in showing what was happening during this time. The protests started with a person filming George Floyd’s death at the hands of Derek Chauvin, and it continued to be used to schedule demonstrations and be used as an on-the-ground reporting tool.

Even as the pandemic has faded, many still use Instagram as a tool for social media activism, spreading their opinions for their audience to hear. The algorithm Instagram uses can help spread information to a target audience and perhaps an audience unaware of the world’s injustices.

Criticisms of Instagram Activism

Like all social media activism, Instagram activism is not without its critics. Many have pointed out that while it can spread awareness for a cause and rally people to protest in real life, it can also make people participate in “slacktivism.” Short for slack activism, this is when a person likes and shares activism-related posts and perhaps makes some of their own, but that is the extent of it. Often, slacktivists forget about one social injustice as soon as it becomes less popular to discuss, and many may use slacktivism for their benefit, such as growing their account.

Our opinion? Both things are true. Social media can be a valuable tool for activism, spreading awareness, and organizing real change. However, social media is not real life. Change comes when people are willing to leave their comfort zone and pursue real activism, such as making it to the streets or organizing movements in real life.

Another criticism is misinformation, where people may intentionally or unintentionally share untrue information. As always, do not uncritically believe everything you read on Instagram; use the information you are given as a springboard to do further research and come up with your conclusions.

Final Thoughts

Instagram is an ever-evolving platform, and how people use it will also evolve. However, it being used as a tool to bring change to the world is something we believe will never leave. You can use your platform to inspire real change or learn more about what you can do to help others who may need it.