Working toward Empowering a Community: How Immigrant-Focused Nonprofit Organizations Use Twitter during Political Conflicts
Association for Computing Machinery
In the digital age, social media has become a popular venue for nonprofit organizations to advocate for causes and promote social change. The 2016 United States Presidential Election occurred amidst divisive public opinions and political uncertainties for immigrants and immigration policies were a frequently-contested debate focus. Thus, this election provided an opportunity to examine nonprofit organizations' social media usage during political conflicts. We analyzed social media posts by immigrant-focused nonprofit organizations and conducted interviews probing into how they managed their online presence and social relations. This study finds that these nonprofit organizations adopted three key strategies to support their target community: 1) disseminating content about immigration-related issues and policies; 2) calling for participation in collective endeavors to influence the political climate; 3) engaging in conversations with outside stakeholders including political actors, media, and other organizations. We use empowerment theory, which has been used widely to study marginalized populations, as a theoretical lens to discuss how NPOs' social media usage on Twitter reflects their endeavors to bring information and calls to action to immigrant communities. We, then, present design opportunities to amplify the advantages of social media to help nonprofit organizations better serve their communities in times of political upheavals.