“… this is a movement organised by social media, a set of shared ideas around which the young can mobilise.” (source)
This week I am still sticking to the fascinating world of social media. Since I am using them every day, I was thinking about what else they can be used for, other than the interaction between internet users and the possibility for businesses to make personalized advertising? They certainly can be used to raise high awareness of events going on in the world.
Last week I stumbled about the website Avaaz.org, a campaign network that reports on different occurrences concerning subjects like human rights, religious conflicts or climate change, for instance the plan of the Ugandan government to introduce an anti-gay bill.
But what can we do about it?
We can sign petitions. And spread the message around the world. The network managed to stop the vote on the bill and prevented by this the implementation of lifelong sentence and even death sentence for homosexuals. To achieve this goal, Avaaz.org tried to get one million people to sign the petition within 24 hours. I believe they might not have managed that if it was not for the social media, the fastest way to spread a message and to reach millions of people in a short period of time.
During the “Arab Spring”, those massive demonstrations for democracy this year in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yemen and many more countries it was very often difficult for the inhabitants of these and other countries to receive information about the ongoing protests. Sometimes strong internet censorship complicated it even more. So the use of social media became a very important factor not only for the commentatorship of the protests but also for organizing and calling on people to take part in the demonstrations, as one Egypt tweeted during a protest:
“We use Facebook to schedule the protests, Twitter to coordinate, and YouTube to tell the world”. (source)
And now, another “revolution” is taking part. Because of the high unemployment particularly among young people, and general protest against the situation due to the social policy, demonstrations took place in many Spanish cities in advance to the local elections, and they are still continuing.
You can find people talking about it on Twitter, on Facebook; you find photos on Flickr and videos on YouTube. There even have been live streams which showed the plaza Puerta Del Sol in Madrid where there were thousands of protesters still continuing with the demonstrations yesterday, one day after the elections. Also here, the impact of social media is immense, whereas the press does not even come close to it.
“Perhaps it doesn’t matter that the press are silent. Perhaps it is enough that we share our ideas and the stories of those engaged in similar struggles around the world through blogs and social media. There will come a point beyond which the world cannot ignore the size of these movements.” (source)
Democracia Real YA! (real democracy now!), a grassroots movement and one of the organizers of the demonstrations, has created pages on Facebook which have now more than 350 000 members. And there are many more pages to support the protests, even from foreign cities like Sydney, London, Brussels or Hamburg. Also Twitter is keeping the people informed. According to El Movimiento 15-M crece espectacularmente con las redes sociales como caldo de cultivo, in the central hours there are up to 500 tweets per hour concerning the subject. And Rafael Wefers Vérastegui, the leader of the Twitter community, tweets every five minutes some news about the Spanish Revolution, according to Lars Wich on Social Media Revolution in Spanien.
All these events would probably have taken a different direction or would not have aroused the great attention they have, if the organizers did not choose the way of social media and the internet.
For more information about the Spanish demonstrations http://www.albavolunteer.org/2011/05/%C2%A1democracia-real-ya/ or http://yabastamedia.wordpress.com/2011/05/23/this-revolution-is-sponsored-by-you/