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Does Instagram anti-racism work?

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We’ve all seen the posts on Instagram. You might have even shared one or two on your feed, or at least on your story.

They are the pastel-hued, swipeable explainers that condense complex issues of racism and inequality into digestible, social media-ready form.

It’s anti-racism that fits your aesthetic. And these kinds of posts are hugely popular.

The hashtag #antiracism has almost 600,000 posts on Instagram, #BLM has 8.5 million. People are increasingly using the platform as a sort of ‘activism-lite’, and other online spaces are fast becoming hubs for this specific kind of anti-racism content.

Lots of anti-racist campaigners and activists would argue that the prevalence of these kinds of posts is a sign of progress. These conversations are reaching more corners of society than ever before, complicated ideas are being made much more accessible, and it allows more people to encounter and engage with anti-racist narratives in their everyday lives.

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Sisters Natalie and Naomi Evans started the Instagram page @EverydayRacism just weeks before George Floyd was killed last year. Their aim is to amplify the stories of people from ethnic minority groups and spotlight the realities of racism in the UK today. Now, they have 133,000 followers.

‘Accessibility is a huge benefit of this type of content,’ says Natalie.

‘We want to be able to break some of these complex ideas down so that they become like bite-sized pieces for people to access. I think it can be really overwhelming to try to understand everything at once – big issues like white supremacy, white privilege and anti-Blackness. To be able to break some of that down for people is quite helpful.

‘Then, crucially, we want people to go away and realise that they need to do more learning and more active anti-racism in their lives.’

The instant connection and the scope of the possible reach on social media is also a big selling point for this form of anti-racist work. The @EverydayRacism account has followers from around the world, 10% from the US, which is a global audience that two sisters from Margate would not have been able to access without Instagram.

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‘We live in an area where there is a lot of deprivation, the literacy levels are extremely low,’ Natalie adds. ‘I’m a teacher in my day job and I see it first-hand. There are a lot of people in this country who would not be able to read many of the anti-racism books that are out there – they would go over people’s heads. We can’t underestimate how important it can be to have platforms that simplify some of these ideas and explain some of the terminology.’

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So, there is certainly an argument for ensuring anti-racism doesn’t become intellectually elitist. And, many of the posts shared by @EverydayRacism – and the hundreds of other similar accounts on Instagram – are more than a show of solidarity, they also provide clear information about complex issues and guides on how to get directly involved and take action. 

But is there a danger that something critical in the argument is lost when these discussions are condensed in this way? Has it become too easy for people to share a post to their stories without meaningfully engaging in the content?

For some, these posts are an easy way to perform allyship – without necessarily practicing what they post. Natalie and Naomi say they think about this a lot.

‘Our motto is “listen, learn do the work”. This is something we are really conscious of,’ Naomi tells Metro.co.uk.

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‘We focus a lot on the “work” part. Our account is very much meant to be the start of the conversation. Activism isn’t sharing a post on social media. Activism has to be something that impacts change. That is the whole point.

‘So, while social media is so helpful in opening up a conversation and getting a message across, that isn’t the same as doing the work.’

The pair say they are really conscious of providing practical tools and advice to help people implement anti-racism in their lives beyond simply reposting something they have seen on their account.

‘We realise that it is often easy for people to share or repost with very little thought or consequences – you can share something on your story and it disappears in 24 hours – so it does make it easy for people to look like they care about something. But actually, we really try to encourage people to engage with anti-racism offline.’

About seven-in-ten Black, Hispanic and Asian users say social media is at least somewhat effective for changing people’s minds about political or social issues, compared with half of white users who say the same

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Research has also shown that online and offline activism are often integrated and are positively correlated. This research also suggests that participation in online activism can encourage offline protest by serving as a way to ease people into real action and help them form their identity.

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Dr Adanna Steinacker – a medical doctor turned digital entrepreneur and co-founder of @adannadavid_fam – thinks social media has become more than just sharing outfit of the day images, or lifestyle posts, she believes there is scope for affecting real change.

‘So many people will only ever join the conversation, or have the opportunity to learn about these conversations, on Instagram,’ says Adanna. ‘We should never underestimate the power of social media as it relates to the anti-racism movement.

‘There is a place for condensed and simplified information when it comes to educating on heavy topics like anti-racism. The target audience here is mostly white people, who do not live the reality of being a Black person, they’ve never been confronted with it.

‘Quite frankly a lot of people have only been awakened to it since the death of George Floyd that intensified the global BLM movement. A lot of white people are now willing to listen and to learn. In my opinion, the best way to teach is to start in a simplified way to grab the attention of the listeners. Longer conversations can be had on IGTV, IG Lives, podcasts, TV, or any other medium that allows for it.’

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Adanna does recognise the limitations of social media anti-racism, though. She says it is much harder to have in-depth dialogues that properly unpack the more challenging topics related to racism.

‘When you educate through Instagram posts, you’re somewhat limited to comments on that post, which I don’t believe is enough to really discuss that issue or take into account different perspectives,’ she admits. ‘However, I don’t believe any limitation outweighs the opportunity to use our platforms for this movement.

‘This kind of work makes white people uncomfortable in a way that triggers the need to learn, unlearn and do better. It creates more opportunities to be an ally.’

Limitations on further discussion and oversimplification aren’t the only potential problems with anti-racism on social media. It can also be used as a tool to scrutinise and penalise people of colour who choose to engage with this kind of content.

A study from December 2020 found that Black people whose posts were about racism were evaluated less favorably by their employers. Specifically, they were perceived as being less likable. In addition, Black people whose social media posts were related to racism were less likely to be offered an interview for a job. 

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Which begs the question – who do these social media discussions serve?

It may be that while they provide simple and accessible education for white people – who are then viewed favourably for sharing these posts – the people who are directly affected by racism can be negatively impacted by sharing and posting anti-racism content online.

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In her text ‘Acknowledgement, Belonging and White Anti-Racism’, academic Emma Kowal states that online anti-racism can be a ‘performative behavior that, paradoxically, works to police White identity and retain control of the dialogue around racial inequalities even as it purports to tackle them.’

Meaning, the intentions that are driving social media anti-racism are not always what they appear to be, and the dialogue doesn’t always serve minoritised communities.

Ultimately, social media can be a fantastic tool of communication and sharing new ideas, but there are limitations, and – as the content producers interviewed for this feature have reiterated and agree with – online posting is not a replacement for real-world action when it comes to anti-racism.

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Natalie and Naomi from @EverydayRacism are working hard to push beyond optical allyship to create truly meaningful change.

‘More and more, young people are telling me that they are learning new things about anti-racism on Instagram, or TikTok,’ says Natalie. ‘We shouldn’t dismiss these forums of learning just because they are non-traditional.

‘We both work full-time, so it is like having another full-time job. But fighting against injustice is something we are both so passionate about, and we do see our content affecting people and impacting change, and that is why we do it.’



The State of Racism

This series is an in-depth look at racism in the UK in 2020 and beyond.

We aim to look at how, where and why individual and structural racism impacts people of colour from all walks of life.

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It’s vital that we improve the language we have to talk about racism and continue the difficult conversations about inequality – even if they make you uncomfortable.

We want to hear from you – if you have a personal story or experience of racism that you would like to share get in touch: metrolifestyleteam@metro.co.uk

Do you have a story to share? We want to hear from you.

Get in touch: metrolifestyleteam@metro.co.uk.


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LinkedIn Makes its 20 Most Popular LinkedIn Learning Courses Freely Available Throughout August

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Looking to up your skills for a job change or career advancement in the second half of the year?

This will help – today, LinkedIn has published its listing of the 20 most popular LinkedIn Learning courses over the first half of 2022. In addition to this, LinkedIn’s also making each of these courses free to access till the end of the month – so now may well be the best time to jump in and brush up on the latest, rising skills in your industry.

As per LinkedIn:

As the Great Reshuffle slows and the job market cools, professionals are getting more serious about skill building. The pandemic accelerated change across industries, and as a result, skills to do a job today have changed even compared to a few years ago. Professionals are responding by learning new skills to future-proof their careers and meet the moment.” 

LinkedIn says that over seven million people have undertaken these 20 courses this year, covering everything from improved communication, project management, coding, strategic thinking and more.

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Here are the top 20 LinkedIn Learning courses right now, which you can access via the relevant links:

  1. Goal Setting: Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) with Jessie Withers
  2. Excel Essential Training (Office 365/Microsoft 365) with Dennis Taylor
  3. Interpersonal Communication with Dorie Clark
  4. Cultivating a Growth Mindset with Gemma Leigh Roberts
  5. Project Management Foundations with Bonnie Biafore
  6. Using Questions to Foster Critical Thinking and Curiosity with Joshua Miller
  7. Essentials of Team Collaboration with Dana Brownlee
  8. Unconscious Bias with Stacey Gordon
  9. Learning Python with Joe Marini
  10. Communicating with Confidence with Jeff Ansell
  11.  Speaking Confidently and Effectively with Pete Mockaitis
  12. Learning the OWASP Top 10 with Caroline Wong
  13. Power BI Essential Training with Gini von Courter
  14. Strategic Thinking with Dorie Clark
  15. SQL Essential Training with Bill Weinman
  16. Developing Your Emotional Intelligence with Gemma Leigh Roberts
  17. Communication Foundations with Brenda Bailey-Hughes and Tatiana Kolovou
  18. Agile Foundations with Doug Rose
  19. Digital Marketing Foundations with Brad Batesole
  20. Critical Thinking with Mike Figliuolo
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If you’ve been thinking about upskilling, now may be the time – or maybe it’s just worth taking some of the programming courses, for example, so that you have a better understanding of how to communicate between departments on projects.

Or you could take an Agile course. If, you know, you don’t trust your own management ability.

The courses are available for free till August 31st via the above links.

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Instagram Is Rolling Out Reels Replies, And Will Be Testing A New Feature Which Informs …

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Instagram has added a few more social features to the platform, with Reels Replies being rolled out. Along with the Replies, anew feature is being tested that shows when two users are active together in the same chat.

Reels has been performing much better than perhaps even Instagram ever anticipated. The TikTok-inspired new video format (which officially claims to have absolutely no relation to the former) had some trouble really finding its footing initially. However, Reels has grown massively and while it may not be a source of the most direct competition to TikTok, it is indeed a worthy alternative.

Reels has grown to the point that it has a massive creator program attached to it, and the video format has even been migrated to Facebook with the goal of generating further user interest there. Naturally, with such a successful virtual goldmine on its hands, Instagram has been hard at work developing new features and interface updates for Reels, integrating it more and more seamlessly into the rest of the social media platform. Features such as Reels Replies are a major part of such attempts at integration.

Reels Visual Replies are essentially just what they sound like: A Reel that is being used to reply to someone. It’s a feature that’s been seen frequently across TikTok as well. Reel Replies essentially take a user’s comments, and reply to them in video format. The comment will then show up within the Reel itself as a text-box, taking up some amount of space, and showing both the user who issued said comment along with the text. The text-box is apparently adjustable, with users having the ability to move it around and change its size depending on where it obstructs one’s Reel the least.

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Overall, it’s a fun addition to the Reels format, even if the credit should be going to TikTok first. At any rate, it’s an example of Instagram really utilizing Reels’ social media capabilities, outside of just serving it up as a form of entertainment.

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Speaking of social media capabilities, a new feature might help alleviate one of the most common frustrations encountered across all such platforms. Isn’t it annoying when you see that a friend’s online, but isn’t replying to your chat? Sure, they’ve probably just put their phone down to run a quick errand, but there’s no way for you to know, right? Well, there sort of is now! Instagram is beta testing a new feature via which if both users are active within a chat, the platform will display that accordingly. It’s a work-around, sure, and one that’s currently being tested for usefulness, but it’s still a very nice, and even fresh, addition to the social media game.

Now, the active status will only appear when you are both active at the same time.#Instagram #instgramnewfeature@MattNavarra @instagram @alex193a pic.twitter.com/2chGZP9hr4

— Yash Joshi  (@MeYashjoshi) December 10, 2021

Read next: Instagram Plans On Allowing Users To Return To Its Old Chronologically Sorted News Feed

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5 apps for scheduling Instagram posts on iPhone and Android

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Alright, we get it. You’re an Instagram Nostradamus.

You know exactly what you want to post and when you’re gonna want to post it. Maybe there’s a meme or comment you want to make that you know will be totally relevant for a future moment or event. Or it could be that you’re an influencer and you want to make sure you keep a steady stream of content coming, so you want to schedule posts for times when you know you won’t be active (or won’t have internet access).

You’ll be happy to know there are apps that are specialized for just such situations. So listen up, InstaNostradamuses…Instagrostra…Instadam…Insta…uh…you guys (we’ll workshop it. No we won’t. We’ll probably just abandon that effort completely. You’re welcome) — these are the Instagram-post-scheduling apps for you.

While all of the iPhone apps below are free to download, they all have some in-app purchases.

1. Planoly

PLANOLY

We’ll start with “official partner” of Instagram, itself, Planoly — an Instaplanner that uses a grid to let you plan, schedule, and publish posts (as well as Reels) on Instagram. The app also lets you see post metrics and analytics so you can make sure your post didn’t flop.

Planoly is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

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2. Buffer

BufferCredit: buffer / app store

Buffer is another Instagram post scheduler that helps you plan your posts and analyze feedback once they’re published. Use a calendar view to drag and drop posts into days/time slots for easy scheduling.

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Buffer is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

3. Preview

PreviewCredit: preview / app store

Preview offers typical post-scheduling tools and analytics along with a few helpful extras. Get caption ideas, recommendations for hashtags, and more.

Preview is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

4. Content Office

Content OfficeCredit: content office / app store

An Instagram post scheduler with a visual boost, Content Office allows users to plan and schedule Instagram posts while learning “marketing and visual guides to grow your brand on Instagram.” Like aesthetics and using visuals to create cohesive themes? Maybe this is the Instaplanner for you.

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Content Office is available for iOS on the Apple App Store.

5. Plann

PlannCredit: plann / apple store

You’ll never guess what “Plann” lets you do…

Aside from scheduling posts, get content ideas and recommendations, as well as strategy tips to ensure you’re maximizing your Instagram engagement. Ever wonder when the best time to post something is? Plann can offer you some help with that.

Plann is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

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