Catherine Powell Discusses Power, Backlash and Risk in Digital Activism

Catherine Powell (’94), Fordham University Law Professor, posted a blog for the Council on Foreign Relations examining social media as a powerful tool for leveraging positive change and the corresponding dangers of online activism (“The Promise of Digital Activism – And Its Dangers,” Mar. 21). “[R]estrictions on expression, including self-expression, reflect both the power of civil rights progress as well as the significant retaliation social justice activists face. . . . [D]igital movements depend on the extent to which a few powerful companies are willing to defend free speech, even in the face of immense pressure from national governments. . . . Tech companies could devote far more resources to combating targeted harassment of women’s rights activists and journalists. . . . The United States government could also do more to support digital activism by reevaluating its partnerships with authoritarian regimes and directing more aid to women’s rights organizations and digital rights groups.”