Indigenous Communities in the Digital Age: Challenges and Opportunities of Social Media


In today’s world, each perspective of our lives depends on the web and different digital advancements. From how we communicate and work to how we learn and play, digital advancements play an fundamental part. It has gotten to be vital to create sensible administration instruments that can offer assistance guarantee that the internet is secure, reasonable and open whereas securing client protection and information security.

For indigenous, social media gives an important stage for sharing their stories celebrating their culture and interfacing with individuals around the world. This association and expression are fundamental for protecting and spreading their wealthy social legacy. However, it also brings its unique challenges, such as facing racial discrimination and hate speech in cyberspace. These challenges threaten their psychological well-being and may limit their ability to use these platforms for free expression and cultural exchange.

Indigenous identity expression and challenges in social media

Social media makes a difference indigenous express their character by giving a stage to share their stories, social hones and individual encounters, and this expression and sharing upgrades their sense of their indigenous identity. It moreover serves as a interfacing device that improves ties between community individuals, whether through joining indigenous-specific social media bunches or through sharing and talking about substance related to indigenous culture, making a difference to construct a arrange of back and understanding.

In spite of the opportunity of expression given by social media, the issues of misunderstanding and cultural appropriation faced by Indigenous people are complex and sensitive. These issues influence the individual personality and self-expression of indigenous community individuals and touch on broader issues of social regard and mindfulness. Communication on social media tends to be simplified and rapid, which can exacerbate stereotypes of indigenous people. Non-Indigenous users may hold simplified or erroneous views of Indigenous people based on limited information or misconstrued images in popular culture. Bronwyn Carlson and Ryan Frazer (2018) mentioned that 88 per cent of respondents had seen examples of racism against Indigenous people on social media. One respondent explained the diversity of such forms, such as comment sections on news articles targeting Indigenous people that are often filled with a plethora of stereotypes about Indigenous people, online fanfics that share racism, and YouTube videos that are uploaded without Indigenous people’s permission. More than a third of respondents had personally experienced direct racism. Worse, 21 per cent had received threats from other users on social media, and 17 per cent said these threats had affected their lives “offline”. Indigenous people may face questions from others when expressing their cultural identity on social media, particularly if their appearance or lifestyle does not fit some people’s preconceptions of what a “typical” Indigenous person is, such as being questioned about being “not black enough” or “not Indigenous enough”. “not Aboriginal enough”, which are based on stereotypes of Indigenous identity (Carlson & Frazer, 2018). In the face of racist attacks and prejudice on social media, Indigenous have adopted different coping strategies to protect their identity and mental health. Some Indigenous users have become more cautious in sharing personal information, sometimes even choosing not to reveal their Indigenous background on social media. Other Indigenous users choose to be proactive in responding to these challenges. They may resort to self-censorship to avoid fuelling conflict, providing correct information directly to those making racist comments to correct their misconceptions, or utilising the functionality of social media platforms to block or report users who spread hate speech (Carlson & Frazer, 2018). Hate speech expresses hatred, discrimination, or hostility towards specific groups or individuals through words or statements. This kind of speech is usually directed at people of certain races, religions, sexual orientations, gender identities, disability statuses, and other specific attributes rather than being based on objective facts or reasonable arguments (Royani, 2018).

Secondly, the issue of cultural appropriation is widespread on social platforms. Cultural appropriation refers to the adoption of traditions, symbols, language, dress, art and other cultural forms of one cultural group by another, which usually needs a deeper understanding of and respect for the original cultural context and significance of these elements. In indigenous cultures, this includes the appropriation of material culture, such as dress, artefacts and ceremonial objects, and intangible culture, such as language, stories and rituals (Amenabar, 2016). For example, some non-Indigenous businesses use elements of Indigenous culture as their product or brand names. They use Indigenous language vocabulary to name restaurants or product lines and use it in social media marketing. These situations do not necessarily have the consent or participation of Indigenous communities and are sometimes criticised as cultural appropriation. The issue of Indigenous cultural appropriation does not only exist in Australia. The Navajo Nation is one of the largest federally certified tribes in the U.S. In 2012, the Navajo Nation filed a lawsuit against the retailer Urban Outfitters for using the name and design “Navajo” without permission. The Navajo Nation indicates that the products were made with Navajo names and designs. The Navajo Nation states that these products (including clothing, jewellery, bottle covers, etc.) infringe on their trademarks and copyrights and are a disrespectful commercial exploitation of their culture (Navajo Nation and Urban Outfitters, 2019). Through a review of multiple cases, it can be seen that Indigenous cultural appropriation constitutes a global issue, spanning different countries and regions and involving Indigenous and minority groups. These cases illustrate the issue’s complexity, counting multidimensional issues such as social regard, mental property security, and intercultural communication.

Challenges of racism on social media and opportunities for support

When discussing the phenomenon of Indigenous people experiencing racist attacks and violence on social media, we must center on the far-reaching affect of these negative information  on their personality and mental wellbeing. Racist attacks are often based on deep-seated discrimination against Indigenous cultures and traditions, manifesting themselves in the denial and devaluation of Indigenous identities, which not only undermines Indigenous people’s sense of their own cultures and identities but can also trigger self-doubt and self-denial. Such persistent negative interactions leave indigenous peoples feeling that their culture and identity are threatened, which can have a severe impact on their mental health. Prolonged exposure to racist attacks and violence can lead to Indigenous people experiencing mental health issues such as anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder , which not only affect an individual’s daily life and social relationships. It can also lead to long-term deterioration of mental health issues.

However, social media presents both challenges and opportunities for Indigenous . As an open platform, Indigenous people can create and join online groups and communities focused on providing mental health support. Indigenous people can freely share their life experiences, challenges and achievements within these communities, gaining emotional support through mutual understanding and empathy (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2023). Additionally, open discussions and events on social media, such as online workshops, live streams and challenges, can help to promote dialogue about mental health and raise community awareness of relevant issues, particularly about mental health issues that are common in Indigenous communities, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression. Thus, while social media can be a conduit for racist attacks and violence, it also provides an important space where Indigenous people can find support, foster dialogue and raise public awareness of mental health issues.

Social media as a new ‘meeting place’ and the importance of social media

Social media has become essential for Indigenous to maintain and strengthen community connections, mainly by providing a new ‘meeting place’. These stages empower indigenous community individuals to associate and communicate over endless topographical separations. For illustration, indigenous family individuals have utilized social media stages like Facebook to discover and reconnect with misplaced relatives. This sort of association is valuable in recouping long-lost family individuals. Communities utilize stages such as Facebook to post occasions and notices to guarantee that individuals stay near to each other. This practice allows communities to quickly and efficiently disseminate information, including cultural activities, gatherings, and other community events (Carlson & Frazer, 2018).In a few farther indigenous communities, Facebook could be a stage comparable to a community bulletin board on which doctor’s arrangements, crisis notices, and other critical occasions and data are posted. This practice is crucial to synchronising community members’ information, especially in areas where traditional communication methods are not readily available (Carlson & Frazer, 2018).

In addition, through online activities and discussions, social media has become a new form of cultural practice and expression that allows indigenous cultures to be showcased. IndigenousX was founded on Twitter by Luke Pearson, an Indigenous, in 2012 to elevate and disseminate Indigenous voices and perspectives. By allowing different Indigenous to “take over” the account every week and share their stories and perspectives, IndigenousX not only increases the visibility of Indigenous culture but also provides a space for self-expression and self-representation for the Indigenous community (“IndigenousX presents,” n. d.)

IndigenousX challenges the deficit discourse in the mainstream media, which is the media’s tendency to portray Indigenous peoples and issues in an unfavourable or unfavourable light (Pearson, 2021). Deficit Discourse is a term used in the social sciences, particularly in education, media, and policy discussions. It refers to a style of discussion or narrative framework that tends to emphasise a group’s flaws,deficiencies or failures rather than their abilities, achievements or potential (Fforde et al., 2013). IndigenousX endeavours to present a more holistic and authentic picture of Indigenous communities, going beyond the approach of simply ‘balancing’ negative stories by adding positive ones. This approach helps to reflect on and challenge stereotypical images of Indigenous people and narrative frameworks that reinforce stereotypes.

In expansion to Twitter, indigenousX encourage amplifies its reach by distributing articles, recordings and podcasts through its site and other social media stages, covering a wide run of areas, counting legislative issues, culture and instruction. In this way, indigenousX has ended up a critical social media presence, providing a stage for indigenous to specific and interface and openings for individuals around the world to memorize and get it indigenous culture.


Through positive cases, such as utilizing Facebook to assist indigenous individuals find and contact misplaced family individuals, IndigenousX is actively working on the deficit word problem. Able to see the positive affect of social media on indigenous. In addition to Facebook and IndigenousX, more similar platforms and initiatives should be encouraged and supported. These platforms can help Indigenous people to maintain and strengthen their community ties, act as a conduit for information and social exchange, and promote understanding and respect between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.

At the same time, whereas social media has given indigenous with an basic stage for self-expression, community association and social transmission, it has too brought with it issues such as cyber-violence, especially bigot assaults on indigenous people, as well as the challenge of keeping up the quality and consistency of substance in the introduction of assorted substance. These issues not as it were influence the online encounter of indigenous clients but moreover undermine their mental wellbeing and character. Arrangements to the issue of online viciousness ought to incorporate reinforcing the administrative approaches of social media stages, such as improving reporting and response mechanisms, quickly removing harmful content and taking action against users who spread hate speech. In addition, providing indigenous users with education on cybersecurity and privacy protection and resources for psychological support are essential solution strategies.

In addressing indigenous cultural appropriation, it is crucial to foster a deep public understanding of and respect for the unique values of indigenous cultures.At the same time, Governments should play a key role in protecting indigenous cultural intellectual property rights by developing and implementing clear laws and policies to ensure that any commercial exploitation is undertaken with the consent of the original cultural community and appropriate compensation. Education ought to improve the learning of indigenous societies and decrease errors, and businesses and the media ought to show indigenous cultures truly and consciously. This is a matter of protecting indigenous cultural heritage and a broader discussion about justice, respect and the preservation of cultural diversity, which requires concerted efforts and sustained attention from all sectors of society.


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