Many people were shocked and appalled when Juror B37 from the George Zimmerman trial announced a book deal the Sunday immediate following the Saturday night not guilty verdict. Trayvon Martin supporters were confused as to how a sequestered juror under court ordered anonymity was able to acquire a book deal on a Sunday as well as an appearance on CNN for the following Monday. However, Genie Lauren, like many other supporters, saw the book deal and appearance by Juror B37 as opportunistic and decided to use Twitter to voice their protest.
Lauren was able to find the name and company contact information for the Agent who gave Juror B37 the book deal, and she used Twitter to disseminate the information to fellow tweeters to allow them to voice their concerns. The initial contact from the Agent with Lauren was one of empathy as she understood that Trayvon Martin supporters were in mourning. However, the next time Genie Lauren was contacted by the Agent, it was to notify her that the book deal had been rescinded.
This has many pundits and others asking the question is social media to powerful as well as what constitutes responsible use of social media. Technology and social media has removed the communication barriers that once blocked the flow of information from those in control of organizations to those at the bottom. In addition, the speed in which social media and technology is able to facilitate communication and calls to action is becoming a game changer for grass roots organizing.
Prior to social media, grass roots organizers or disgruntled consumers had to contact the heads of organizations and make request for assistance in order to address issues. The persons in charge of receiving these requests would then decide the flow of information. People were often drowning in red tape and bureaucracies in order to get complaints to leaders within an organization. This is no longer the case with the advent of social media, and its ability to micro-target individuals and organizations with complaints, information, and resources as vested entities.
Genie Lauren talks to ABC news about the experience:
Genie Lauren proves that the internet can literally change something overnight. Lauren, who goes by the handle @MoreAndAgain, launched a Change.org campaign in response to juror B 37. The now infamous juror was one of six women who acquitted George Zimmerman in the death of Trayvon Martin. She was also the first to secure a literary agent. Read More
Deona Hooper, MSW is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Social Work Helper, and she has experience in nonprofit communications, tech development and social media consulting. Deona has a Masters in Social Work with a concentration in Management and Community Practice as well as a Certificate in Nonprofit Management both from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.