There has undoubtedly been an increase in participation in social movements due to technology. However, the involvement in these movements is only surface level. People only participate because so little is asked of them, such as liking the Facebook page or following the movement on Twitter. This kind of involvement can only bring social acknowledgment and praise but no actual risks. Once a deeper commitment is asked of people they will stop participating in the movement. This is drastically different than social movements before technology.
In his article Small Change, http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2010/10/04/small-change-3, Malcolm Gladwell used the example of the civil rights movement when discussing the difference between movements with technology to movements without technology. More specifically he used the exampled of the four freshmen from North Carolina A & T having a sit-in in Greensboro, North Carolina. The part of the article that stuck out to me was his comparison of the ties that the students conducting the sit-in had as apposed to the ties that those united over social media have.
The students from A&T new when they went to start a protest that they would have each others backs and that they were in the protest together no matter what. These boys had gone to high school together and were now best friends in college. They spent a month talking about sitting in at a diner known as Woolworth and then one of the students decided it was time and the others agreed. They were in it together and they gained courage from the fact that their good friends were there with them.
With social media movements those strong bonds are nonexistent. The only bonds that people in the movement have are there belief in the movement. There belief is a good start but they don’t have the knowledge that if things get tough the others won’t bail. There is not a complete trust in each other, which makes the movement weak. A movement may get a lot of media coverage but that coverage does nothing if the people of the movement can’t work together and if they are not completely organized as a group. In his article Exploring the role of Twitter and social media in revolutions, http://www.frontlineclub.com/exploring_the_role_of_twitter_and_social_media_in_revolutions/, Daniel Bennett lists that leadership can be lost making it hard for any gains made to be followed up.
Overall I would say that participation has increased on a surface level only. But when it comes down to it surface level participation is not going to help a movement do anything other than get media attention.