In the wake of the Rush Limbaugh's sexist attacks on Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke, more than 50 advertisers have asked to be removed from his Premiere Radio Networks show. Today, Bloomberg News reported on the use of social media by activists and organizers in raising awareness of Limbaugh's comments and informing companies about them.
In addition to featuring the efforts of Media Matters' Angelo Carusone, the Bloomberg piece discussed a campaign by UltraViolet, a women's rights group whose online effort marshaled "100,000 signatures online in two days for a petition asking ProFlowers to boycott the show," followed by 30,000 messages to the company. UltraViolet co-founder Nita Chaudhary told Bloomberg that her group's "organizing was so effective because people were in an information environment -- as they're Googling it a tweet comes in, or they get an e-mail from us giving them a way to take action. If the information environment had not existed, this would have been a slower campaign."
From the Bloomberg article:
"The boycott wouldn't have had the same effect without Twitter or Facebook," said Carusone, campaign director for Media Matters for America, which is dedicated to "monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media," according to its website. He was careful to add that others across the Internet fueled a campaign that thus far has prompted at least 51 advertisers to cut ties to Limbaugh -- in less than eight days.
While threats of boycotts over content are as old as old media, online social outlets have matured -- both in use and perception -- to the point that major corporations now weigh these campaigns more seriously and with an urgency not seen before. The collective power of social media to specifically target a group of companies has never been more dramatically on display than in the Limbaugh incident, shaking companies as diverse as San Diego-based ProFlowers and Dearborn, Michigan- based Ford Motor Co.