Social Media and Democracy

Social media is an embodiment of democracy in many ways. The larger collective and organisation of voices all contributing to a larger discussion, meaning that social media can be a highly successful aid to democracy in real world settings. One needs to look no further than the Arab Spring into 2010 to see the real world utilization of collective comment and condemnation, which then turned into tangible activate physical rebuttal of the governmental situation.

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Social media, such as Twitter, is perfect for organisation of protests and other events. But in some cases it can be used for harmful causes such as the case of the Cronulla riots that was organised partially on social media. The medium gives the opportunity for any message to reach a large audience in a quick amount of time. With twitter you can instantly update situations as they transpire, which is why the site is such an exemplary source of current news.

The recent Hong Kong protests have shown a problem social media and organisation of mass movements via online platforms. The protests there have had to subvert Chinese internet censorship to spread word of the situation that has been unfolding. Chinese internet has no Twitter, Facebook or Youtube, instead rely on state made and curated online platforms that are set in place to aviod situations of mass public upheaval.

The problem with internet movements, which we have seen in Egypt and Turkey, is that the internet can be shut down by government forces. In the future it appears much more likely that the standard path for censorship will be the pull the plug approach. Which is why democracy needs to be state endorsed if we are to move our communications online as the trust vs risk level is high in these situations.

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