Social Networking + Activism

I think social networks (through the form of websites and apps) have altered the relationship between citizens and established government. As part of the Arab Spring in 2011 (around the same time The Social Network came out), Egyptian activists organized and led rallies to protest their current president. Their anger was aimed at the economic situation and corruption within the government but also involved freedom of speech, feminist issues and police brutality. Activists and journalists turned to Twitter, Facebook and Flickr to show firsthand accounts of what was happening in Tahir Square and raised an enormous amount of global outrage and solidarity, which eventually led to the resignation of the president. The social network campaign was especially heightened due to censorship that was happening in Egypt and led many to realize the power individual voices had in the face of government oppression.

A similar situation happened in Ferguson a few months ago, where a few photos and blogs about policy brutality towards blacks in the United States sparked an uproar of activism and civilian revolt. This created an unprecedented amount of civilian interest and critical analysis of governmental power, which allowed many Americans to step forward and challenge governmental authority, even in smaller matters. I think the ability of social networks – to spread current news and events among a global audience – is truly changing the way we view government as a whole. Because citizens are realizing the power of social spaces to raise awareness of smaller causes and uniting with others that share this drive, they are taking the power away from government and spreading it among themselves. In this way, the masses become more worthy of fear than the government because they have learned how to use social networks – a tool necessary to spark change – as a weapon against injustice.