Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Social Media Puzzle: Piece #6 Can social media bring about social change or not?

There are a number of commentators who belittle social media as an agent of change. I disagree with that view.

For me social media is as much an instrument of change as radio was in the 2nd world war. It is simply a means of mass communication - a some-to-many communication system where about 10% of users create about 90% of the volume.

As for creating social change, the facts are that during the week President Mubarak resigned the number of tweets about political change increased ten fold in Egypt. That fact was taken from a study by a Professor Howard at the University of Washington reported here.

In addition videos featuring protest and politics were watched over 5 million times and the amount of online content about the political situation increased dramatically.

And at the time of the Tunisian revolution 20% of blogs were discussing the president, Ben Ali.

This wave of communication about social change spread throughout the region creating movements in a wide variety of Arab countries. Governments tried to crack down on social media in the region, but that seems only to have created a greater urge for information.

Now, it is true that we do not know how the new governments of Libya, Tunisia and Egypt will perform in the long run for their citizens, but to deny that social media acted as a communication tool, which aided change seems willfully blind.

Before this period the despotic governments in Arab countries seemed immovable. Now everyone in the region knows that social change is possible. Social media helped to make that a reality.

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  1. They are saying that social media has a role in Obama's success in politics, do you agree? Because if it is then social media can indeed bring change.

    John Mulry

    1. John, in the same way that radio and TV helps politicians I see social media helping successful politicians too.

      But you have to have a credible message. Social media is simply another medium, not the message.