Grassroots organizations using Facebook to mobilize
Impact of giant social media network
(over 75,000 a year) use the internet more often than those in lower income brackets,” surmising that 95 percent of wealthier Americans have access and are utilizing it.
Just as economic opportunity is a caveat for patron usage, research also shows that in poorer countries businesses use social media less. A study from the public relations firm Burson-Marsteller shows that businesses in Latin America—a region with
dismal access tube and others realize--the way a New York Times article put it--“there may be 1.6 billion people in the world with Internet access, but fewer than half of them have incomes high enough to interest major advertisers.” Both the costs of access and connectivity siphon out a distinct tune in today’s global chorus of digital expression.
The Middle East
More and more people across the world are logging on and signing in, with hardly a second thought for connectivity and access. In
A Guardian article showed that Youtube recently suffered censorship in the Khabarovsk region of East Russia, where the Court ruled that it should be banned following the publishing of an extremist nationalist video an act that caused outrage amongst bloggers. Yet, according to a Spiegel Online piece, President Dmitry Medvedev blogs and has a Twitter account, and is publicly an avid fan of the possibilities of social media.
In the Middle East, repressive authorities are struggling to arrested and even executed for expressing their views online and that the government banned Facebook before its June 12 presidential elections because opposition candidates were using it to reach out to their supporters.
The Next Web website reports that China’s People’s Liberation Army has banned all social networking for its 2.5 million soldiers. Widespread Youtube video regulating and Facebook banning have taken place recently in China. The government regulates social media activity but as our speaker for the digital summit, Vicky Lu, pointed out, much of the Western media coverage exaggerates censorship woes in China. With access, connectivity and liberty lined up to serve social media users, what do they do with the opportunity? This question led this report to examine measures of progress as outcomes of new media engagement. The clearest example of social media fostering a glimpse of greater democratization was in the 2009 Iranian Election. The New York Times reported that the opposition leader, Mir Hussein Moussavi, had more than 50,000 members on his Facebook fan page. And most know about what the Times called a cliché title of a “Twitter Revolution” that spurred mass demonstrations in Tehran. Another Times article titled “Protests in Moldova Explode, With Help of Twitter,” explained the use of social media to mobilize Moldovan youth to protest against the country’s Communist leadership. Examples of similar political empowerment have also been seen in Venezuela, as a digitally-savvy youth emerged to take governance grievances against President Hugo Chavez to the streets.
Possibly the most interesting example of progress coming from today’s burgeoning digital phenomenon appeared in Mexico. After researching that country’s citizen use of Twitter as a security sound-off against violent narcotraffickers, CNN correspondent Nick Valencia, spoke on his reporting south of the border. He wrote in a March 2010 article that “reports of brazen gunbattles throughout [Reynosa] surfaced almost minute-by-minute.” Residents use hashtags to focus their tweet content on specific areas or occurrences of violent conflict. This discovery was the most astonishing, putting residents in the driver seat of their own security system, opening up numerous possibilities for safety in areas of the world where authorities can’t adequately quell violence.
However, the fate of free access to this service in Mexico is still to be decided. A bill was proposed in Mexican legislature to ban Twitter and other social media outlets, in response to concerns that narcotraffickers themselves were also using the site for coordination. Farther south in Latin America, another portrait of development was seen as a by-product of social media proliferation. Ecuador barely averted a military coup on its sitting head-of-state, Rafael Correa, in October of 2010, reported NPR. Developments of the coup attempt, many of which aided decisions on how to stop it, were tweeted by residents and journalists in the area. This advancement in by-the-second communication of political events came as a breath of fresh air in Latin America, a region historically marred by corrupt politics and opaque institutions.