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It began with a singular focus for protest from Vancouver BC based Adbusters in mid-July – a simple Twitter hashtag #OccupyWallStreet, with an evocative poster of a dancer atop a charging bull. A loose, ill defined message from an equally diverse group began camping in a park near Wall Street in New York, and solely using the natural connections of social media, the Occupy Movement spread rapidly throughout the United States, into Canada, and across the world.

For some, especially in the media and political realms, the entire lack of organization, along with the length of the original Wall Street protest, was puzzling. How could so many disparate people and groups come together with no common message {other than anger over corporate greed}, without in-depth media involvement, or established political leadership? Of more concern, why were the protesters initially rejecting media in favour of creating their own?

There are obvious parallels with the ‘Arab Spring’. In Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Syria activists had to use social media as mainstream sources were (in many cases still are) controlled and censored by oppressive governments. Protest organizers in the United States, Canada and Europe made a deliberate choice to avoid the press releases and mainstream public relations, the hallmark of past protest movements, recognizing the channels available through social media platforms – Twitter, Facebook, Youtube – are more powerful for organizing, and broadcasting.

Occupy Victoria BC Canada October 15October 15th saw over 1500 rallies and marches under the Occupy ‘Banner’, with 25 events across Canada. In Victoria BC, two events attracted over 1000 people with a lively march from Centennial Square at City Hall, through downtown to the Provincial Legislature and back. A common response from those I asked was they found out about the Victoria events through social, not legacy, media. The number of people taking photos and videos, broadcasting through their own networks and using the #Occupy twitter tags will likely see the protests spread further.

The entire Occupy movement may signal the shift from the power of mainstream media, to the individual and crowd-sourced, to engage and motivate popular, newsworthy attention.

Occupy Victoria Video – October 15th

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