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Social Media Spotlight: Washington Post’s #2012Unfiltered

by Amanda Le, published
Instagram photo by A.J. Chavar

Name: #2012Unfiltered

Social Media Stats:

Tagged: 805 photos


2012 Unfiltered aims to strip away the political rhetoric through photos — specifically your photos. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then this is your chance to speak volumes, showing political leaders and the country what's on your mind. – Ryan Kellett, Washington Post reporter

Why they made the cut: In the virtual world of hastags and @ mentions, social media has seen the rise and fall of movements and trends. It holds truer than ever that one hashtag can single-handedly make or break your career, boosting you to skyrocketing fame or heckled oblivion. The use of hashtags with a more constructive motivation though is seen through the use of The Washington Post’s coverage of the 2012 election happenings through Instagram.

The social media movement was started late last year in response to the success of photos streamed in by instagram users with the hashtag #econdebate. The news platform asked their readers from all over the U.S. to send in their photos answering their question: “What does the economy look like where you live?”. Washington Post then took hold of this idea of "photo send-ins" and reached out to the 10 million registered users on Instagram to document their views (literally) on the campaigns and voting events associated with the 2012 elections. The principle hashtag being #2012Unfiltered. The WP posts their favorites on the regularly updated comment stream, ultimately covering politics through visuals. This IVN photo from a Ron Paul rally in San Diego made the Washington Post's cut, and was added to the comment stream back in May (for more, follow us on Instagram at @IVNetwork):

A collection of photos from the #ronpaul rally at #ucsd #2012unfiltered Credit: @IVNetwork

The Washington Post's utilization of social media platforms like Instagram to mobilize a large base of users in political ways, demonstrates a tech savvy strategy. With the U.S.'s growing distrust of news media, the use of social media movements such as these proves the increasing prevalence of grassroots modes of spreading information.

Past events covered by the hashtag #2012Unfiltered include:

The most recent activity of the hashtag is the coverage of the presidential campaign, the most active contributors being WP’s reporters Amy Gardner (@amyegardner1) and Phillip Rucker (@philliprucker). Their posts ranging anything from pork chops to protests. Another WP staffer, Natalie Jennings, also chronicles the movement's activity on Storify.

In a time where aesthetics has a growing importance over the distribution of information, the type of photo journalism seen through #2012Unfiltered portrays social media in a positive light and therefore, this week’s “Social Spotlight”.

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