Week 14

The readings for this week are outlining how the international community, specifically the American government could impact the change to democracy abroad.

Cohn is bringing attention to the fact that America.gov is deciding to channel its efforts to various social media platforms. She claims that “the social media movement in Egypt ‘validated’ the shift strategy” and therefore further encouraged social media platforms to be used by the government. This new technology has also brought a new language as a new way of communicating. Shorter stories and messages are now being composed to deliver the same type of information. This information is also spreading in multiple languages. In class we talked about how people of the Middle East tweeted in English and now our government is “’ramping up’ their translation efforts” (Cohn). This movement is interesting because the advent of social media is now being more salient even in more professional and traditional contexts.

Abdo talks about the way the Iranian Revolution is urging the western world to contribute and help democratize their government. He also believes that the Green Movement specifically could benefit. What he is saying could possibly be true that if the Government puts more pressure on the Iranians then they will fold to democracy however, this may not be very effective. I think that these issues are very complicated and enough people in the Middle East are not using social media, which is the bottom line. It needs to be more prevalent in their society to actually have majority support and be an integral tool.

Do you think that social media could actually push a country towards democracy?

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4 Responses to Week 14

  1. benjhalp says:

    I do not necessarily think it could push a country toward democracy, but it could certainly help. Democracy is all about transparency and the government listening to the citizens. To be able to listen to the people on how to change the government and to give people access to the daily happenings of the government, open communication is absolutely imperative. The easiest way, especially these days, to maintain open communications between the people and its government would be with social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter. Such examples of social media would allow governments to be in constant contact with its people, which would allow for input or for information sharing between the two sides. Also, if a non-democratic government embraces social media, they would be able to hear the concerns of its people efficiently, which could then introduce change or a more open dialogue between the people and the government. While social media by itself would not be what pushes a country toward democracy, it could be the mode that allows the communication that would introduce the push toward democracy.

  2. Nicole Taylor says:

    I don’t think that social media itself can be the tool to push people towards democracy. I think if you looked at a comparison of countries with the most social media users you would find that a lot of these countries are already democracy. Social media may facilitate democratic revolutions, but I don’t think it does anything on its own. The strong personal ties that people have are what got people involved in the revolutions in Egypt. If you consider Egypt and Iran and look at how the government was easily able to shut down the internet in Egypt, or trace protestors in Iran through facebook friendships and Tweets, than you can see that social media could almost be a debilitating force at times. I think there may be a correlating factor between social media and democratic revolutions, but there is certainly not a causal factor happening.

  3. daefros says:

    I do not think that social media could solely push a country towards democracy. I think that the people within the country have to find offline motivations and communications that unite them first. As said above, I do think that social media can definitely aid towards a democracy. People could tweet and gain attention internationally that could help influence the Western world to intervene. I think that Abdo makes a solid suggestion that if the Western world were to help, they would have to let them form their own type of democracy instead of pushing the American “type” on them. I think there is a lot more that goes on offline that would cause democracy to develop in a country. From the readings combined with my experience I have found that social media makes a lot of noise but doesn’t do anything in terms of mobilizing people or creating social change.

  4. sloebs says:

    I do not think the social media itself could push a country toward democracy but it would play a significant role in helping. It would help spread the messages and get people involved but then it would be up to the people to act. The attention that the possibility of having a democracy in a certain country gained from Twitter and Facebook would significantly aid it actually happening but there is no way that social media alone could be responsible for it. What would be needed is people who feel strongly about this to act.

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