Red Dots for Kashmir Can Only Do So Much

More than 40 days after India’s Hindu nationalist government announced it would revoke Article 370 of the Indian constitution, taking away the Muslim-majority state of Jammu and Kashmir’s semi-autonomous status, Kashmir is still under curfew, is plunged in yet another communications blackout, and has no internet. 

Several weeks in, Twitter and Instagram are still flooded with posts tagged #RedforKashmir or #StandwithKashmir and the bright red dots of those who have changed their profile pictures as a sign of solidarity. But little has changed in Kashmir — and those in the region can’t participate in the conversation.  

Do the red dots really work? Or is the solidarity just an illusion, a social media bubble?

Social media activism is not new. In 2013, organizers of the #BlackLivesMatter movement strengthened their cause by starting social media accounts and encouraging their community to share footage of police brutality online, such as the video of Staten Island police placing Eric Garner in a chokehold. 

Earlier this year, people changed their profile pictures on social media to blue to represent the unrest in Sudan. Blue was the favorite color of 26-year-old engineer Mohamed Mattar, who was among 128 killed on June 3 when newly-empowered paramilitary forces attacked protesters who were demandin

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