The digital space has become indispensable for campaigns around the world. However, it is not obvious how digital influence translates to leverage on-ground action, particularly in its impact on protest movements that challenge the status quo. In our study, we seek to clarify these conceptual issues with the idea of influence in digital politics and develop a framework to understand its institutional impact, particularly in the Global South. Taking two prominent movements, #BlackLivesMatter, which was successful in changing the state's policy on racism, and #AntiCAA in India, a similar movement that achieved less success, we develop a comparative framework that can be applied to understand the limits of digital influence in the Global South. Highlighting the difference in their institutional contexts, we show that digital influence emerges not only in terms of its positive impact but also in the negative impact it can have when the state and its institution seek to counter the protests.
Photo by Alyssa Rose