Twitter and a Revolution
While I attend conferences and talks very often for my organizations, it is not very often I do so for class. However, I attended one last Friday for my Social Movements and Social Media class featuring a discussion of the impacts of social media such as Twitter, Facebook, etc. on the uprising in 2009. I found this discussion to be very informative as it has really shown me a different use of Twitter and Facebook that I had not fully explored. I usually view Twitter as an information source and Facebook as “updates” and pictures from friends. However, during the revolution, Facebook and Twitter were used as means of communication and channels for safe houses, pictures of events, and updates that could not make it through the heavily guarded news media. Another great example of this is the earthquake in China a few years ago where the news was broken by Twitter with stirring pictures of the scene that forced China to admit the earthquake had happened, though it quickly took the event more seriously as protests about building codes and construction started. This discussion is not to meant to either condone or condemn the events and the use of Twitter, but rather to raise questions and points about the future. This will delve later into a discussion on The Battle of Algiers and how revolutions are formed and won. However, first, I want to raise questions I first thought of when I heard of all these events.
1. The rise of Twitter and Facebook shifted the landscape from physical to digital. Does this alienate many segments of the population from participating (older, poor, children) that traditionally could have been the forefront or thought leaders? What are some of the implications of missing them from the movement?
2. The younger generations have always been known to be more prone to social movements. Does a heavy social media presence (like OWS) reflect the views of millions or the concentrated views of select few?
3. When we get our information and news from other countries through these sources, how we separate the fact from fiction? Are our own thoughts and beliefs skewed by the medium? Imagine if we were living in Africa and the only people we got our news from was Nancy Pelosi or Glenn Beck. While I am not insinuating they are wrong, their views are much farther to the extremes than the average citizen.
4. Will it ever be possible for governments to censor social media, especially during revolutions? What is the best solution for them to contain issues they do not want getting out?
I am not sure of the answers to many of these questions but I think they raise interesting points I would love to see explored. What are your thoughts or are their other questions you have as well? It is interesting to see how Twitter has risen and where it will be going as it heads towards its IPO.