Thursday, May 23, 2024

Comentarios de Maria Cardona: “Latinos and Social Media”

A mobile phone screen gives a woman in Latin America a glimpse of the son she hasn’t seen since he immigrated to find work in the U.S. over 15 years ago, while another Latino mobile user logs on to Facebook from her device to update her business fan page, and yet another takes the words right off the sticker handed to him at the election poll and tweets “I voted.”

It’s hard not to speak of Latinos and social media in the same sentence these days. Perhaps the biggest story to come out of 2011 will be that the U.S. Latino population surpassed 50 million, but close behind that is the story of how social media is helping turn that raw number into empowerment for Latinos.

Recent studies show that Latinos outpace other demographic groups in the United States in the use of social networking sites, especially via their mobile devices and they’re not slowing down, for a number of reasons. In 2010, 87 % of English speaking Hispanics owned a cell phone compared to 80 percent of whites, according to a study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project. The same study found that 18% percent of Hispanics online use Twitter compared to just 5% of whites—that might explain why I see a spike in Twitter followers every time I tweet in Spanish. And a Nielsen study also found that 62% of Hispanics online engage in social networking activities versus 38% of whites.

Why are Latinos such social mediaites? Because the power of social media is profound. Latinos are increasingly using social media because it has many functions and they are taking advantage of them more than ever to advance their position in American society. Social media is crucial for Latinos’ growth and prosperity in this country in all aspects, from staying connected with family and friends, to searching for jobs and growing their businesses, and for entertainment and civic engagement.

A recent report by the Hispanic Institute highlights Latinos’ civic engagement through social media since back in 2006 when thousands of protesters, organized by texting and social media, flooded the streets in all major cities calling for immigration reform. Think about the first time you ever logged on to a social networking site and the most recent time (it was probably just a few minutes ago but most likely it occurred within the last hour). When you first became a citizen of the worlds that are Facebook, Twitter, or Youtube, etc. you were probably looking to socialize with friends and family. Fast forward to your last social networking session—after you checked in on your primos and primas from south of the border and scanned your friends’ statuses for particularly interesting posts, you probably also indulged in a video (or two) to alleviate the humdrum of the day and then quickly dropped by the Voto Latino fan page to leave a comment over your latest political wanderings, then maybe perused the Univision homepage for the latest chisme on hot telenovela stars.

In a sign of the times, it seems more likely that the next big political movement will take place not in the streets, but on the World Wide Web. It’s already happening around the world in the Middle East and the Far East. Dictators in Tunisia and Egypt were toppled by their own people with the help of social media to spread the word of the injustices committed against them, and similar efforts are ongoing in Libya. In the U.S., Latinos are no different and are engaging in social media to make a difference in the top issues affecting their community.

In Los Angeles, the program VozMob is teaching immigrant workers to use their mobile phones to record and upload stories about their daily lives onto the internet. These types of initiatives are now more important than ever in the wake of Arizona’s anti-immigrant legislation and other copycat laws. These public stories will help combat the hateful rhetoric and anti-Latino sentiment being spewed around the country today.

This is our time. Let’s take advantage of it to the fullest by speaking our minds using these powerful tools. So let’s tweet, facebook, and youtube not just about JLo and La Reina del Sur, but about why our elected officials need to pass the DREAM Act now, or about how the Republican Party will speak to Latinos once they have a nominee. Let’s push each other, challenge each other, young and old , to become architects of our own destinies. Let’s make our voices heard, but not just to complain. Let’s vote and let’s be a part of coming up with solutions. If we do that, using all the social media tools at our disposal, we will help regain, redefine and rebuild the American Dream for all our communities and get “#Latinos #Winning.”

Maria Cardona is a principal at the Dewey Square Group and a Democratic Strategist.

This article originally appeared in Latino Magazine.


  1. I use Facebook and Twitter as a source for news now a days too. I usually find out about interesting stories I wouldn’t hear about in the mainstream media from my friends’ posts.

  2. I agree that Latinos are extremely present on social media. However, their level of social engagement to report on injustices is not quite there yet. More organizations like VozMob need to be in place to teach under-privileged Latinos about the power of sharing their voice online.

    Additionally, I am reluctant to think that type of upheavals that happened in the Middle East will spread as quickly in the Caribbean and Latin America. Cuba being a perfect example – their technological isolation is hindering civilian’s ability to group and protest.

    The strength needs to come from Latinos who have access to the technology and spread the word from there.

  3. I also think Latinos rely on Social Media to get information about purchasing decisions from their friends.

    As a community, we continue to be ignored by many large companies that focus exclusively on the “general market” for their advertising because they don’t see the Latino community as a vast trillion dollar market – yet.