The emergence of social media has not only changed the way we communicate with each other, but also how we pass across different messages to different target audience. We sometimes forget that social media is a tool that can be used to make the world a better place. Most of the time when people think of social media, they only think of the negative effects on the upcoming generations.
For instance, there is a way social media has shaped the face of democracy over the past few years. We are in 2017 and we can clearly see that democracy is on a higher level compared to some few years back in some countries. Social media has reduced the world to a small village and therefore networking with people and sharing political ideas has been relatively easy.
Democracy is a subject which is very close to my heart. It enables people to share their sentiments freely without fear or intimidation. Through social media, a lot of milestones have been achieved and will forever go down in history. For instance, in Egypt in 2011, the Egyptians were able to de-throw their president of 30 years Hosni Mubarak. One of the protesters Fawaz Rashid said, “We use Facebook to schedule the protests, twitter to coordinate and YouTube to tell the world”. Hundreds of thousands of protesters gathered at Tafoh square daily, until he stepped down.
In Tunisia, social media led to the liberalization of their country. The traumatic death of a 26-year-old university graduate Mohamade Bouaziz sparked protests in different parts of the country. They were able to show the world and its people the brutality of the police towards the youth. This triggered the people of Tunisia to come out in large numbers and protest to advocate for their rights since the media was restricted to report such news. The protests continued until the president fled the country.
The power of social media to mobilize people and create political pressure was first seen during the Arab Spring in 2011. In October 2014, social media was used in Burkina Faso to prevent President Blaise Compaoré from changing the constitution which would have allowed him to run for another term after 27 years in office.
Social Media when used well, can be used for liberation and democratization and put an end to a lot of injustices. For instance, in the United States Of America in 2016, they started a twitter hash tag #blacklivesmatters after the brutal murder of Altorn Sterling. This sparked demonstration in New York and major cities in USA to compel the government to stop the killings of black people by police officers.
A lot of activists have emerged through the use of social media. This is because they are able to speak their mind without fear of intimidation and criticism. For instance, Lara Witt who is an Indian Kenyan uses her twitter account to bring light to issues concerning black and brown women. She also speaks about life as a survivor of sexual assault and of someone who suffers PTSD. We can also see the works of Darnell Moore who uses his twitter account to share stories that have been under-reported and sheds light on issues affecting marginalized communities. Boniface Mwangi is a Kenyan activist who has never been afraid to share his thoughts. He is well known for his initiative team courage. He is also remembered for his courageous step to film and take photos during the 2007-2008 post-election violence in Kenya.
In countries in which the freedom of speech and press is limited due to the access to and lack of independent media, social networks take on the roll as a primary source of information. Even though the risk of misinformation is higher due to the lack of controls, freedom of expression and the right to criticize government are an integral part of democracies.
Despite our nature to focus on the more negative moments in social media, there are still many people using social media outlets to do great things in our world. Whether it is helping someone who is about to lose their home, bringing awareness to injustice, and everything in between, social media gives people the power to do a little bit of good in the world. So when you have the opportunity, please try to do some good with your social media presence.