Title: The Hashtag Activism of Milk Tea Alliance on Twitter: A Mixed-Method Study
Stream: Social Media and Communication Technology
Presentation Type: Live-Stream Presentation
Soon Yung Low, London School of Economics and Political Science, United Kingdom
Chia-Jung Jao, Taiwan Mental Health Promotion Association, Taiwan
How has social media been utilized by "cloud activists" in Asia and to what effect? This article focuses on the emergence of Milk Tea Alliance as transnational digital activism, mobilized by several ongoing protests in Asia from mid-2020 onwards. Conducting topic modeling and content analysis on 89,091 tweets with the hashtag #milkteaalliance from April 2020 to 2021, the study argues that Twitter was mostly used for two purposes: (1) to disseminate demonstrations information in respective regions and (2) to build a collective sense of community and elicit initiatives against the threats of authoritarianism in Asia. The key narratives we found show that Milk Tea Alliance as an “imagined-community” digital activism embodies to a substantial degree the shared resentments towards autocracy, particularly the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) as the common foe in the name of democracy, human rights, and freedom of speech. Furthermore, while successfully raising awareness of local issues to transregional attention, the activism translated to relatively less action on the ground in contrast to what mainstream media has portrayed.
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