Using Social Media to Advance Access to Justice

According to worldwide statistics,[i] there are over 1.5 billion people on Facebook, 400 million people on Instagram and 320 million people on Twitter. In 2016, 71% of Canadians logged on to Facebook weekly, 49% of us watched videos on YouTube at least once per week and 27% of us used Twitter at least once per week[ii].

In terms of age breakdown, American statistics reveal that 88% of Americans between the age of 18-29 are active on Facebook, 59% use Instagram and 36% of individuals in the same age group are on Twitter and Pinterest[iii]. Many of these individuals are on these platforms daily.

If one of your organization’s goals is to engage younger members and encourage them to take action, then your access to justice organization needs to up its social media game.

The Canadian Forum for Civil Justice recently released the Canadian Access to Justice Initiatives – Justice Development Goals Status Report. For this national Action Committee on Access to Justice in Civil and Family Matters report, we asked respondents if their organizations are active on social media. 27% of respondents indicated that they have no social media presence, while 64% advised that they use Twitter and 58% use Facebook[iv].

These numbers indicate that our access to justice organizations are starting to embrace social media and all it has to offer, but there is more that can be done. This is especially true if your organization is seeking to involve younger Canadians.

Some interesting ways to increase awareness of access to justice issues in Canada on social media could include:

  • If your organization isn’t on social media, get on there! It will help increase your organization’s reach and could result in a whole new demographic learning about what you do and why
  • Host a Twitter Chat: For example, the BC Provincial Court’s Chief Judge hosted a Twitter Town Hall on Law Day in 2016 [v] and repeated #AskChiefJudge in April 2017 [vi]
  • Use live streaming or live tweeting at a social justice related event to generate interest and to build connections. Justice Canada recently used Facebook Live to allow the public to watch the meeting of federal provincial and territorial ministers as they discussed a strategy to address the delays in the criminal justice system
  • Promote your events on social media through advertisements or word of mouth
  • Create a hashtag for your organization and use it on your social media accounts. Ask colleagues to use it as well. In time, it could become the next #IceBucketChallenge #LoveWins or #GivingTuesday[vii]

The national Action Committee on Access to Justice in Civil and Family Matters is also currently running a social media campaign aimed at raising public understanding of accessible justice challenges as a component of a healthy democracy. (Follow the hashtags #justiceforall / #justicepourtous to join the conversation).

Start small and with one social media outlet. Learn how it works and see how it goes. Social media can be intimidating when you first start out, but it’s easy to learn and a quick way to raise the profile of your organization or event.

By Nicole Salama
Canadian Forum on Civil Justice









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