It has been proven time and time again that social media is having an awesome impact on modern societies. Since the invention of the first social networking, SixDegrees in 1997, the number of these sites and their users has grown exponentially. We now have; Twitter for short status updates, Instagram for uploading our digital photographs, and we have Facebook which does everything other websites do and more.
Facebook allows you to connect with friends and family, post status updates and photographs, and create an online profile for yourself on its website. Another component of Facebook that makes it extremely practical in the busy lives of its users is the Create groups or events feature. As member of various societies and clubs in University, I have found that it is these organizations’ Facebook pages that are what keep me informed about events and social gatherings that take place. It is on through a Facebook invitation to the event where I found out about the March for Choice that took place on the twenty third of September 2016.
With thousands of Irish citizens and many Polish citizens in the mix , the march for Choice was a success due to the high turnout rate and celebrity appearances along the way showing their support for Irish women . The march also symbolised how the days of total Catholic dominance over every social aspect of this country and its laws are slowing coming to an end, and in its place individual opinions and equal human rights for all are becoming more prevalent. The strict abortion laws in Ireland have become outdated since their introduction to the Irish Constitution as article 40.3.3 in 1983, and also show contradictions with the other main constitutional rights of Irish citizens. Take for example the how the constitution states, with regard to bodily integrity, that neither a person nor the state has the right to harm your life or health. This right is strongly upheld by the state, unless you are a pregnant woman with a fatal foetal abnormality or if you are at risk of taking your own life over a pregnancy, which could result in your death. In this case the state can (and has done so before) refuse you treatment to save your at the cost of the foetus, denying the woman’s right to life. The Irish ban on abortion is even more disturbing in other cases, where both women and young girls alike are being forced to carry their unwanted pregnancies to term, even if they were victims of rape and incest , unless they can afford to receive the medical care they need and deserve in another state.
— Ed Smith (@edsongsofpraise) September 24, 2016
Undoubtedly Repeal the 8th has quickly become one of the most talked about Irish social movements since the referendum on same-sex marriage last year. Despite the fact that many people are becoming more educated on the topic of abortion, I wondered if the broadcasting of the march on any form of social media had any influence over the number of supporters that showed up to the march, compared to the pre-Internet era.
Before the use of the internet and social media websites, the main source of announcement for social movement rallies would have been from the news and word-of-mouth. Although both of these are still relevant today it is a mystery as to how much, if at all Facebook and Twitter had made a difference. In some ways it can definitely be said that these platforms have made a difference in some aspects. The constant status updates about the march may have informed more people who previously may not have known of the event about the date, whereabouts and time it was taking place.
— erica jane (@ericajanelee) September 21, 2016
I also know of a few #Repeal supporters who were not entirely sure if they wanted to join in on the march in Dublin, but were encouraged to go when they saw how many others said they were attending the event on Facebook. If this happened to three people I personally knew, then without a doubt they were many more other protestors who decided to go based on the expected turnout.
Although it is clear that social media posts were the deciding factor as to whether to attend the march for some, there are a few other factors that are not related to social media that may also finalised some people’s decisions. Such factors include, but are not limited to; the increased acceptance of abortion in Irish society over the last decade, meaning less people would have felt judged or stigmatized for supporting such a cause, and how the number of Irish women who have to leave the country for an abortion has become common knowledge. This staggering number, which in 2015 came to more than nine women a day , is often mentioned on the news whenever a report surrounding the abortion ban and the Repeal the 8th Amendment movement is made.
As you can see, it is possible that Facebook and Twitter may have been the reason for the popularity behind the #MarchForRepeal. But it is also possible that it was our modern, less strictly-religion-orientated society that decided it was time to play catch up with other developed countries.
Please feel free to leave your own opinions as to whether or not you think social media is having an impact on social movements below.
 “Poland, Ireland & the Fight for a Woman’s Right to Choose – ROSA.” Accessed October 7, 2016. http://rosa.ie/poland-ireland-the-fight-for-a-womans-right-to-choose/.
 “Hozier and Cillian Murphy Turned up to March for Choice Today – VIP Magazine.” Accessed October 7, 2016. http://vipmagazine.ie/hozier-and-cillian-murphy-turned-up-to-show-their-support-for-march-for-choice-today/.
 “Death of Savita Halappanavar – Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.” Accessed October 8, 2016. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Death_of_Savita_Halappanavar.
 “Abortion & the Irish Constitution | Irish Family Planning Association.” Accessed October 7, 2016. https://www.ifpa.ie/Hot-Topics/Abortion/Abortion-and-the-Irish-Constitution.
 “Abortion-and-Ireland-Factfile.pdf.” Accessed October 7, 2016. https://www.ifpa.ie/sites/default/files/documents/briefings/abortion-and-ireland-factfile.pdf.
 “Abortion in Ireland: Statistics | Irish Family Planning Association.” Accessed October 7, 2016. https://www.ifpa.ie/Hot-Topics/Abortion/Statistics.