There was a time when social networking was just another way of staying in touch with close friends, reuniting with lost friends, and meeting new friends. The art of social media has since evolved into a marketing guru with Twitter, Facebook and MySpace setting the trend with members capitalizing on the ability to reach the mass with promotional antics. But there is another development in the world of social media, one that is recognized and treated as a sort of revolutionary movement, taking the political arena by storm. Social media is no longer seen as frivolous fun but now another way to raise our voice against those events and ideals that some wish were left alone to wreak the havoc they were intended for.
Social Media and Politics
2009 seemed to be the advent of imposed blocks on various social networking sites; in June China had imposed a block on social websites Twitter, Word press and Blogger among other networking sites and search engines, days ahead of the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre (in1989); no doubt an effort to limit the publicity of the horrific event which claimed thousands of innocent lives. It was evident the Chinese government feared the awakening of what they tried to bury so many years ago. The Tiananmen triggered ban followed the YouTube block in March which occurred when Tibetan activists posted a clip on the video-sharing site showing security forces attacking Tibetans.
Another much publicized social media ban took place during the Iran elections in May. When the foreign media were unable to access reports of the demonstrations in the country, they sought the assistance of social media sites where constant updates were given. Former vice president Mohammad Ali Abtahi, Mir-Hossein Mousavi and other candidates advocating against President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also used Twitter and Facebook as alternate tools of communication for their campaign. Clearly this method of soliciting support was working too well resulting in an “all access denied” order for social media sites.
Social Media and Security
The plain truth is social media crosses all boundaries and all ages. It’s high access to the most influential group of people and the perceived threats are not unnoticed. There are also concerns with the security of sensitive information which may be accessed, as per the breaking news of the U.S. Marines order that all social media sites are to be banned from its network for one year. SC Magazine reports that members of the Marine Corps can no longer access such sites as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter from the branch’s networks or through virtual private network connections, according to an order from the U.S. Strategic Command. The sites are being blocked due to concerns over targeted malware attacks and information disclosure. Personnel may apply for a waiver if “mission-critical requirements exist for access to internet SNS”.
For the most part however, social networking sites can only lead to a positive reformation of how we communicate, giving those who would have never been vocal under different circumstance the opportunity to speak their mind without fear of reprisal. On the other hand politicians seem to be embracing the use of social media, using it as the ultimate marketing tool, and perhaps have bordered on exploiting the diversity of top social brands. But what is “good for the goose” must be “good for the gander”.