ROLE OF SOCIAL MEDIA IN ACTIVISM AND REVOLUTION

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The Role of Social Media’s Influence (Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube) In Activism and Revolution on The World Stage.

Introduction

Social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Youtube have changed the way people relate all across the globe. The networks have improved information sharing on vast areas by significantly reducing the barriers of communication. People from a different part of the world are able to notice any development of events or incidents by the click of a button. Strain attests to this fact in his article when he argues that, “Can a click make a difference in the world? By itself, probably not, but when combined with tens and even hundreds of thousands of other clicks, it may just have an impact.”. Individuals and groups can participate in increasing awareness for the particular events by linking the information to friends and family on the social networks. Information has the ability to go ‘viral’ depending on how it is portrayed and who the target audience is. An example of the latest ‘viral’ video involving activism is the Kony 2012 video which can be found on Youtube. The video seeks to increase the awareness about the plight of the Ugandan people affected by the LRA rebel group which is under the leadership of Kony. Activists have taken an interest in this situation because of the atrocities caused by the leader and members of the group. The social networks are used as channels to seek justice for the people affected directly and indirectly.

There are a variety of ways that the social networks have changed activism as outlined by Rutledge, where she brings out four important ways. The first, regards the mobility of information. Social networks have enhanced the flow of information by increasing the speed by which it moves and reducing the barriers along its path. After the tsunami on Japan’s coastline, people engaged each other on the social networks to offer support to the affected and to determine the situation of their friends and families.

Secondly the social networks have led up to the increase of word of mouth communication. The Arab world has faced several revolutions including the one ongoing to oust the Syrian president and overhaul the government. Most of the information shared by rebel groups and individuals is through word of mouth about the status in their areas. The people also used and are still using the social networks to express the loss of lives caused by the revolution. Most of this information is validated since it is communicated in the real time context and places an individual from another part of the world at that location at that particular time.

Thirdly, the social networks have been used to relay a sense of urgency in the events this leading to immediate individual response. This helps mostly when the situation requires immediate evacuation efforts or funding. An example of this is during the recent tragedy in Haiti where donations were made through the social networks.

Finally, the social networks have influenced activism and revolution by increasing the psychological impact caused by information. It compounds the feeling of need for our individual input during events and incidents in other parts of the world.

Conclusion

Social networks have made it simpler for people sharing the same passion and interest to participate in causes for the common good. The current president of the United States Barack Obama used the social networking tools to relay a message of hope and change during his campaigns. He also used the same platforms to raise funds and this ultimately led to involvement of people from all over the world participating in his campaigns and as stated by Ben Rattray “If the Internet didn’t exist, Barack Obama would not be president of the United States,”. This just goes to show the power of the social networks in influencing and determining change through activism and revolution.

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References

Kessler, Sarah. “Why Social Media is Reinventing Activism.” Mashable Social Media., 9 Oct.2010. Web. 23 June 2012.

Rutledge, Brown. “Four Ways Social Media is Redefining Activism.” Positively Media.    Psychology today., 6 Oct. 2010. Web. 23 June. 2012.

Strain, Jeffrey. “A Different Type of Activism.” Technocrati., 2 May. 2012. Web. 23 June. 2012.

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