Street protests have always been part of American democracy. But after the fatal police shooting in suburban St. Louis, protesters took not only to the street - they took to the Web.
There's nothing new about the racial tension underpinning the events in Ferguson, Missouri, nor in the power of an image to rouse people to action.
But what is new about Ferguson is the role of social media in spreading the message wider and more quickly, particularly for African-Americans.
- Missouri state troopers to take over security in Ferguson
- Missouri governor says emotions "must be expressed" amid turmoil
- Obama on racial tension in Missouri: "Now's the time for healing"
Could the community have been galvanized in such a way before social media?
"It could have been, but not this quickly," said Andre Fields, a 27-year-old political aide.
There have been somewhere near 6 million tweets related to the Ferguson shooting since Saturday, when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager. Many of the tweets have been organized around hashtags like #IfTheyGunnedMeDown, in which African-Americans post two pictures of themselves - one they feel plays into stereotypes and one that doesn't - and ask which the media would use.
"It's bringing awareness, to say, 'Hey, you need to tell the whole story,'" Field said.
While more whites than black use the Internet, the disparity disappears when it comes to overall use of social media. In fact, 6 percent more African-Americans aged 18-29 use social media than whites, 12 percent with Twitter alone.
Kwame Opam covers social media for the online magazine The Verge.
"The digital divide is such that having access to broadband Internet is lesser in poor communities, urban communities, so access to a smart phone gives the chance to use the Internet in a way that other people might not have," Opam said.
Smart phone are more social media driven.
"If you are accessing Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, you are just going to jump on them because that's what you are holding in your hands," he said.
This picture of police dogs in Alabama was taken of May 3, 1963. Of course, no one saw it until May 4, when the newspaper came out.
Now it takes seconds for social media to rocket images from Ferguson around the globe, shaping people's sense of the story as they go.