Social media’s role in revolutions

I found Morozov’s points in his short piece this week fairly inane.  He discusses how quotes are now qualified with the medium they came in, but this isn’t a new phenomenon. In newspaper articles and television news, reporters always qualify quotes with where they got them if they didn’t get them directly from the person. While reporters may have evolved to include new technology as a source it’s not a revolutionary practice. Morozov’s argument that revolutions that involve social media like many of the Arab Spring uprisings, are not actually different or “revolutionary” from previous ones without social media is seemingly contradicted by his opening argument about Mao’s quote.

In contrast to Morozov’s pessimistic view, Hillicon Valley’s report on the State Departments abandonment of America.gov was far more encouraging about social media use in international relations. I was surprised the State Department abandoned America.gov because government infrastructure and information dissemination is stereotypically non-innovative.  The creation of America.gov and the move to social media reminded me of the trend moving more journalism online. Through that change and the government’s decision to leave America.gov one can clearly see the important role social media plays in informing the public.

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One Response to Social media’s role in revolutions

  1. jnzucker says:

    I disagree with you, I feel as if Morozov was just simply discounting social media as the only resource necessary in starting a revolution against a government. In addition, i think you might be confused between Gladwell and Morozov, as Gladwell opens with the quote about Mao rather than Morozov. If we’re talking about Gladwell, I feel like he’s right in the sense that a successful revolution does not have to include the usage of Facebook and other social media resources such as Twitter. Like Gladwell says, “people protested and brought down governments before Facebook was invented. They did it before the Internet came along.” Lastly, as Youmans discussed in lecture on Monday, the use of social media platfroms as become overglorfieid, while it has been used, it can not be the only variable involved. Twitter and Facebook are used in the Arab Spring to create propaganda and to narrate actions, by inspiring and creating revolutionary fervor. But as he mentioned, the usage of social media within a revolution eventually died out because the government was torturing people to in order to find out more information about the revolution. I was also surprised that the State Department abandoned the use of America.gov. Not sure what the lasting effects it will have on foreign policy.

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