How Powerful Is Social Media?

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Most people perceive social media as a tool for liberation and empowerment. Yet, there are others who believe it’s a tool for promoting propaganda and brainwashing.

Take a look at the Arab Spring. In this uprising there were two very different stances on what social media was doing. One was that social media gave people power and the second was that it acted as enemy of the state.

What Social Media Did:

  1. Enabled rapid formation of networks.
  2. Allowed people with cultural differences to connect.
  3. Promoted open expression of thought directed at mass audiences.
  4. Gave people a platform to receive open invitations for mass rallies.
  5. Gave people a place to look for information and educate themselves on the ongoing issue.

People: Social media gives most people in the Arab world the knowledge that their not alone and helps guide abused civilians to overthrow their oppressor. According to an activist, “We use Facebook to schedule the protests, [we use] Twitter to coordinate, and YouTube to tell the world.”

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State: Social media is a dark force which paints a false image of the state. According to the state, enemies of the state narrate false stories on social media in order to brainwash and influence the masses. They suggest these enemies of state do this by uploading fake videos on YouTube and posting false information on other platforms.

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Mideast Egypt Protest

If we compare the new media coverage that the Arab Spring got and the traditional media coverage that Gandhi’s Salt March got we can see the difference in how fast information transmits and creates an international response.  In the Salt March, powerful silent film footage and news headlines were transmitted from India to Britain, which eventually caused a global uproar of sympathy towards Indians instead of the British, eventually forcing the British to release the Indians from prison.

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Caption under image: “…dauntless Mahatma Gandhi, in his latest demonstration of protest against British rule. You see him above (indicated by arrow) as, with head bowed, he trudged among his loyal followers on their ‘parade of freedom.’”

New media and traditional media work in the same way in situations as such, which is they both aim to create awareness and promote responses. Though they aim to do the same things there are slight differences in their process style. New media allows everybody to contribute in outgoing messages at anytime. Whereas, traditional media has specific people controlling outgoing messages and that to at certain times. In the end both mediums are powerful and I believe both have the capacity to make a social change.

Sources

Kassim, S. (2012, July 3). Twitter Revolution: How the Arab Spring Was Helped By Social Media. Retrieved from https://mic.com/articles/10642/twitter-revolution-how-the-arab-spring-was-helped-by-social-media#.tH7nJ58Y6

Lam, A. (2012, September 14). Social Media’s role in the Arab Spring – The Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/andrew-lam/social-media-middle-east-protests-_b_1881827.html

Retrieved from https://middleeastgeographies.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/5643669823_aea47f7740_o.jpg

-Amrit Kang

 

 

 

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2 thoughts on “How Powerful Is Social Media?

  1. It’s really impressive to see how social media can affect important issues like this. However, I think that the state is more likely to use social media. One needs only look at the 2016 presidential election to see how the government is using social media more and more. We live in very exciting times.

    Like

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