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26th June 2009

The Power of Social Media

Thoughts By 7 years ago

Social media has transformed the world and traditional perceptions of communication. Simultaneously, Twitter is transforming social media as the fastest and most accessible network yet.

In the last week the most prevalent and discussed topic regarding social media has been the Iran elections and their aftermath. This is the perfect example of the power of social media. Iran’s Islamic leaders have made their best efforts to curb all foreign and internal media surrounding the elections, with reports of numerous beatings and arrests of bloggers and journalists.

However, social media has allowed Iranian protestors to transcend these measures put in place against media coverage. Through the use of Twitter, YouTube and Facebook, Iran has been reaching the rest of the world with its message of dissidence. To type Iran into Twitter search, constant status updates can be found from sites such as TheranBureau, IranRiggedElect and irannews containing links to footage and images of attacks, messages of support, and information regarding future protest sites and times. It seems that Twitter survives to provide news to the world while conventional media does not.

As can be seen in the example of Iran, the power of social media is undeniable, however we must explore the potential consequence of such power. In an interview with blogger Con Georgiou regarding social media and Iran, NYU professor Clay Shirky suggests Twitter is ‘messy’ due to its open and accessible nature. He believes the rules of Twitter are unclear and at times non-existent, causing us as users to be learning as we go.

Certainly this feeling of a force beyond one’s control must be taking hold of not only the Iranian leaders but the whole world. It seems for the first time, the truth can be accessed, and propaganda done away with. Perhaps this is a utopian view of social media and its effects but with everyday people being transformed ‘from content readers into publishers’ (Wikipedia), one cannot help being excited by the prospect of news coming from the people who are most affected by it.

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