Going Viral: Online Goal Emergence and Adaptation in the Anti-human Trafficking Movement

  • Rachel Gong


This chapter contributes to the fields of social movement studies and digital activism by identifying three types of online goals that are well-suited to digital activism, namely user engagement, fundraising, and individual changes of behavior such as ethical purchasing decisions. These goals have emerged and been adapted organically through continued use of different types of web tools and social media. Activists believe their web presence is important in achieving these goals, and remain committed to investing resources in digital activism. Using data from interviews with activists involved in the anti-human trafficking movement, this chapter examines the relationship between “going viral” and a movement’s online goals. Goal emergence and adaptation online is driven by two types of uncertainty—an initial lack of expectations and norms online, and a reduction in control on the part of activists. The identification of online movement goals lays the groundwork for systemic means of measuring and evaluating digital activism outcomes.


Social change Digital activism Goal emergence Goal adaptation Anti-human trafficking 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Khazanah Research InstituteKuala LumpurMalaysia

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