When the bird spreads its wings

 

Before getting started with the topic I am doing research on (ethic and legal issues to bear in mind when using social media content in news coverage) I want to share with you all something I came across while surfing the Net.

Social Media currently play an important role. This is something that goes almost without saying. Nevertheless, the way they are used in democratic countries differs from that one in states ruled by authoritarian regimes, where social media are the voice of the people who protest, demonstrate or even take part in a revolution.

In developed countries, tools such as twitter are basically used by traditional media to interact with their active audiences, to pick up stories from time to time or occasionally to get a scoop. Whereas, Tunisians, Iranians or Moldavians (all them are just examples) have used social networking tools to let others know about what their governments are tried to silence. Therefore, providing content for a worldwide media mass audience thirsty of actuality.

Can we talk then of a social network revolution?

What’s Happening in Tunisia? The nature of censorship in Tunisia has been well documented, so in the absence of international and domestic news coverage, the protests that have taken place in the country have largely been documented online. This NDItech DemocracyWorks blog post analyses this by itself revolutionary fact in Tunisia.

 

Inside Moldova’s Twitter Revolution Protests in the former Soviet republic of Moldova took place in April 2009. Demonstrator gathered in Chisinau’s main square against communist rulers. And they were Tweeting, posting and uploading what was going on. Perfect picture drawn by Nathan Hodge.

 

Iran’s Twitter revolution June 2009. Iran had seen how general elections handed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a victory. Demonstrations and riots lifted by what The Washington Times‘ editorial calls “the spirit of liberty”. This opinion article deals with the slow reaction Tehran’s government showed to eliminate social media and how people managed to find their voice through social networking tools and spread the word.

 

So what do you think? Are social media playing a different role in democratic countries than in oppressed ones?

 

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5 Responses to When the bird spreads its wings

  1. Inevitably I think this is the case.

    Under oppressive regimes strong willed, opinionated and brave people will always find a way to speak out. But with the growth and popularity of twitter and facebook, the people that manage to speak out can connect with other people who in turn can respond.

    It’s a hugely exaggerated version of the way we tend to use sites like facebook and twitter casually to connect with people with similar interests.

    I think the UN’s Anne Frank campaign which they started in 2010 is a good analogy here:

    http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2010/note6253.doc.htm

    Would the history books be different if Anne was communicating with other oppressed families?

    Camaraderie among people brings change. We’re seeing this in North Africa as we speak.

  2. Ruben Martínez says:

    The UN’s Anne Frank campaign exemplifies in which measure social media are taking on our lives, in all senses. From the way we interact with our closest ones to how authorities try to engage the people with their activities.

    I agree with you that camaraderie among people brings change, especially if these people are able to speak out, no matter which tool they use. Nowadays, the Internet and social networking sites are THE tool and bringing the discussion back to the post’s subject, I think Western Media take advantage of this perfectly. News gathering becomes easier and more powerful because they are witnesses of what is going on.

  3. Ruben Martínez says:

    After posting my comment I came across a perfect example of the post’s main idea, how social media are moving news gathering process to other fields.

    The Guardian. Article dealing with a famous footballer. He describes how twitter has change their relation with supporters. The results;

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/football/2011/jan/22/the-secret-footballer

    Not only under oppressive regimes, but everywhere. However, completely different roles.

    • I agree. I came across another example in the world of football where a footballer’s twitter comment got him into trouble. Twitter makes news but also one must remember that there is no privacy.

  4. Adrian Naik says:

    By giving ‘Citizen Journalism’ a medium through which news can be spread instantly, from anywhere in the world, Twitter is playing a vital role in every country.

    However, where the press is controlled by the government, it becomes the only outlet through which the information can shared. It seems more significant as a result, but I think the role is the same everywhere. Only it’s importance changes.

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