This article was originally published on Smedio.
I often say that social media is a powerful monster and with power, comes responsibility. If you use it for constructive means, it pays off. If you don’t get it right, you pay for it. Though it’s hard to believe, social media has been directly or indirectly associated with a large number of incidents related to violence, terrorism and uprisings all over the world.
Whether it’s the revolts in Egypt and Libya, the recent riots in London or the more recent ‘Twitter Terrorism’ in Mexico, social media is now the de-facto trigger for such events across the world. On one hand, it has freed nations from dictators but on the other, it has promoted looting and served as a medium for communal violence.
I don’t think anyone could have imagined that social media would play such an important role in global peace or the lack of it. In this post, I pour my heart out and present my opinion on whether social media curbs or promotes terrorism and violence.
It’s Us, Not Social Media!
To be honest, I don’t think its social media that promotes terrorism and violence. Social media is just a mechanism to disseminate information quickly – whether the information is good or bad depends on humans. Social media has proven to be a savior for millions of people in crisis situations. Whether it’s the earthquakes in Haiti or Japan, social media served as a great ambassador for the human cause.
Social media is addictive for most people because it gives them power. It gives them a medium to be heard all over the world and makes them feel powerful. Many people abuse this power for their personal and communal interests. Unfortunate as it is, there’s no easy way to curb such social media abuse.
The USP of social media is that it spreads information quickly. While that’s good in some cases, it’s a recipe for disasters when it comes to rumors. For example, in Mexico, Twitter users published false information about at an attack at a school near Veracruz. As expected, the tweets elicited a frenzied reaction, causing “dozens” of car accidents as parents across the city rushed to area schools to pick up their children. It also caused emergency phone lines to jam under the pressure.
Social media is a global phenomenon. It has no geographical barriers. While that’s one of its strengths, it often turns out to be a weakness especially when dealing with violence and terrorism. People have used social media channels to launch ‘organized crime’ across the world. Terrorists plan attacks and direct their associates all over the world using Facebook and even YouTube videos.
Sometimes your biggest strength is your biggest enemy and social media is no exception to that rule.
What do you think of social media’s role in the recent London riots? What’s your opinion on ‘Twitter Terrorism’? Do you think social media helps curb or promote violence and terrorism? Please share your experience by leaving a comment.