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Via BBC News Magazine

The internet was once considered a great equaliser, a platform that could bring strangers together, even across racial boundaries. But internet users of the same race have recently begun clustering on certain social media websites.

Micro-blogging website Twitter has seen an upsurge in traffic from Hispanic and African-American audiences. These groups now claim about 30% of the site’s user base, according to third-party statistics website Quantcast.com.

Meanwhile, white users claim 90% of US traffic on Pinterest.com, while Tumblr.com has seen an over-representation of Asian Americans as of late.

Microsoft researcher Danah Boyd (@zephoria) says though experts once thought the internet would help destroy racial barriers, “all of the divisions that exist in every day life, including those by race and class, actually re-emerge online”.


Excerpt from Social Media for Social Good

In its heyday in 2006 and 2007, Myspace was an incredibly vibrant community of artists, musicians, and impassioned activists and do-gooders. Nonprofits like Invisible Children and To Write Love on Her Arms were born from Myspace. At a time when Facebook was primarily used by college-educated individuals from the middle and upper classes, Myspace was open, diverse, creative, and seemingly the epitome of an online grassroots community.

Then late in 2007 and throughout 2008, the spam on Myspace started to become overwhelming, while at the same time the naysayers and fearmongers were growing larger and louder. The mainstream media and higher education essentially flipped out over the “dangers of social networking,” and Myspace took the brunt of it. The birth of social networking on a mass scale was messy and chaotic, and at times fear and paranoia ran amok. As a result, by late 2008, most of the middle-class white Americans who had initially feared Myspace and social networking began to flock to the clean, neat Facebook community. The dangers of social networking quickly evolved into “opportunities,” and the blogosphere lit up with rants against Myspace, the newly dubbed “ghetto” of the Web, and sang the praises of Facebook and Internet superstar Mark Zuckerberg.

The rise and fall of Myspace taught nonprofit communicators that were paying attention a very important lesson that we should learn from and never forget. Class and race issues play out in social media just as they do in real life. Much of the media and blog coverage of Myspace was elitist and at its worst, racist and classist and offensive to many Myspace users (at the time, there were more than  200,000,000 of them worldwide). As a whole, the nonprofit sector, caught up in its own Facebook euphoria, failed miserably at being a voice for tolerance and civility in the Myspace vs. Facebook war propagated by tech blogs and the media. Sadly, many nonprofits abandoned their communities on Myspace much too soon.

Related Links:
Why Nonprofits Should Sync Their Myspace and Twitter Accounts
[PEW REPORT] Digital Differences: How the Mobile Web is Narrowing the Digital Divide

Has Your Nonprofit Considered Race and Class in Your Social Media Strategy?