Change is typically seen as a good thing. It allows us to adapt, as individuals, to new ways of thinking of things or doing things. York and Youmans discuss the ways in which changes in architecture of social media sites, adversely affected activists in the Middle East. In regards to the Arab Spring, changes on specific developments of social media posed a threat to activists by giving more power to the states. As the communicative structure of social media sites changed, so did the ability of connecting with others. Initially, social media was responsible for breaking silence in the Middle East by exposing corrupt governments. But as architectural changes occurred, the states caught up on social media, using them in a more negative way by spreading pro- government propaganda, side-stepping the intentions of activists. So as the govenrments adapted to the new wave of social media, activist need to adapt or find a way to overcome the continual structural changes of social media.
Activists need to keep in mind that social media is not just a tool for them, but also a platform for politics, commercial use, and individuals. The changes in their websites are meant to enhance the use of technology for all of its users. The fact that this one group of users (activists) are being adversely affected by these changes is very subjective. Rather than be stalled by these changes, activists should find new ways or seek legal doctrines to turn the tables in order for social media to benefit them once again. For example, in the article “State Department shifts digital resources to social media”, Alicia Cohn depicts the ways in which the State Department had to shift to social media and abandon their website America.gov, in order to reach out to the people and be heard. The State Department realized the need to be adaptable to new technology. So if change becomes a barrier to activists in the Middle East, how can they overcome it to make the structural changes of social media beneficial to them? Should they take a legal action? Should they pressure the social media companies? Or should they create their own form of social media?
Cohn, Alicia M. (2011, Apr 4) State Department Shifts Digital Resources to Social Media. The Hill.
Youmans, W. L. and York, J. C. (2012) Social Media and the Activist Toolkit: User Agreements, Corporate Interests, and the Information Infrastructure of Modern Social Movements. Journal of Communication, 62, pp. 315-329.