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Social Media is radically reshaping how

we interact with one another across the


globe. While the public have moved from
being passive consumers of information
on the Web to content producers on
social media, there have also been some
downsides.

Social networks started as a place to


connect with friends in a convenient
way. Coca Cola, Disney and Starbucks
have respectively more than 32 million,
27 million and 24 million fans on their
Facebook pages. People join branded
communities to associate with brands
they have affinity to, support a cause,
get freebies, gain advance news on
things and to have fun. With social
networks we are able to communicate
our thoughts and perceptions over
different topics with a large number of
audiences, and raise our voice.
For instance the Syrian regime
attempted to control traditional media
and frame its message through press
conferences, rebels used YouTube and
social media to provide real-time footage
of the conflict, portraying the regime in a
negative light.

Conversely, people who are in their 30s


or older remember how their parents and
teachers probably warned them about
"stranger danger". Today, however, it’s
not nearly as clear who the
"strangers" are, especially in the world
of social media. Parents who didn’t grow
up with computers -- let alone Facebook,
and Twitter -- might feel ill-equipped to
help their children stay safe in the online
world. Wired.com posted two studies
which demonstrated damage to
productivity caused by social
networking.
Nucleus Research reported that
Facebook shaves 1.5% off office
productivity while the British companies
lost 2.2 billion a year to the social
phenomenon. New technology products
have become available that allow social
networks to be blocked, but their
effectiveness remains spotty.

To sum up we need a balance , an


effective boundary which leads to the
creation of a safe and effective
environment for discussion.

 Balance refers to the importance of creating an equilibrium between young people’s


online and offline worlds

 Boundaries refers to the importance of having clear guidelines about what is and isn’t
an appropriate online interaction

 Communication refers to the importance of creating a safe and effective environment


for discussion between adults and young people about how the young person is using
and experiencing the Internet.
Some statistics: The adoption of social media is a rising trend. The number of global
Facebook users has exceeded 750 million this year, according to Social Bakers. Singapore is
naturally part of this trend, ranking as the 49th largest Facebook community worldwide with
more than 2.7 million users in it, amounting to a more than 55% local user rate.

. Businesses have a more significant new media presence to get customers, potential
customers and stakeholders to think more positively about their brands, gain loyalty, promote
their businesses to others and to assist them to grow their value proposition.

At the end of the day, “the new world of social media” is about human beings interacting
with other human beings towards building a simultaneously diverse but increasingly
homogeneous culture.

. Many children were taught that they weren’t supposed to talk to people they didn’t
know and were told to run away and tell a trusted adult if someone tried to get them to get
into their car.

In an effort to help parents, Megan Moreno, who is a member of the Division of Adolescent
Medicine at Seattle Children's Hospital and an associate professor of pediatrics at the
University of Washington, has written a book that serves as a guide to protecting children
from the dangers of the online world. The book is called "Sex, Drugs 'n Facebook . . .: A
Parent's Toolkit for Promoting Healthy Internet Use."

“So many methods of traditional media, we talked about messages being created by
corporations and then, sort of ‘injected into’ our youth. It was really one-directional. And
now, youth are creators and consumers," she said.

While this development might not seem very significant, Moreno said that "one way that that
impacts youth is that the messages that they view are more likely to be powerful because now
you’re combining the influence of media along with another big influence for teens, which is
peer pressure."

Of course, children of all ages need and can benefit from guidance for their online activity
and to navigate the world of social media. One of the most challenging ages for parents on
this topic is likely to be middle adolescence, what Moreno describes as the teen years spent in
high school. That’s because those young people are still living at home, but often feel a real
need to try on and try out identities and ways to express themselves.

"Developmentally, that time of adolescence is usually the time when teens are most pushing
for independence, and most wanting to really distinguish themselves as individuals separate
from their families," she said.
But issues sometimes arise because the way that they tend to identify themselves is usually
tied closely to their peer group, she said.

Social media, like Facebook, seems made-to-order for the needs and desires of this age
group. Moreno pointed out that Facebook allows users to create their own identity and shape
the image that they project, while also providing a way to connect and interact with peers.
She said she has heard from adolescents with whom she has worked that spending time on
social media, even if it’s at home, gives them a sense of independence and a means to feel
like they have an existence and identity outside of their role in the family.

But as adults, parents know that those positives that come with social media use also come
with some potential negatives. Moreno said she wants to help parents find a good balance
between safety for young people and giving them room to spread their wings.

One challenge for researchers like Moreno is that the American Academy of Pediatrics’
recommendation is that adolescents spent no more than two hours of screen time a day. That
might be unrealistic for several reasons. First, many students, Internet use is part of their class
work and home work, which would also be counted as screen time. For others, the only way
that they can connect with people that share a specific hobby or interest may be via the
Internet. Finally, there are so many ways to access the Internet, whether with a smartphone,
tablet, or a computer either at home or in another location, that it may be impossible to
enforce.

Instead, Moreno said her goal was to find a solution that is "not so rigid as the two hours, but
a little more grounded in the safety messages that parents really know and understand well."

Moreno’s approach is instead to promote the Healthy Internet Use model that her research
team developed. The model is the result of a request from the American Academy of
Pediatrics to help them develop a pamphlet that could be used by doctors in the clinic setting
to guide discussions with their teenage patients about Internet use.

The three steps are laid out in chapter three of “Sex, Drugs 'n Facebook . . .: A Parent's
Toolkit for Promoting Healthy Internet Use” as:

Moreno emphasized that this isn't a model that people use once when children are young, and
then trust that this issue is taken care of. Both because a child will develop in different ways
as he or she grows up, and because the social media landscape is constantly evolving.

“This needs to be an ongoing conversation,” Moreno said.

Positive Effects:

-Friends and Relations:

, well I would say I have and I thank social networks for this. Social networks has provided
us the opportunity to connect with people and build better relationships with friends with
whom we are unable to meet personally, and let them know about our life and take input
about their lives and events happening with them.

-Reducing Communication Barriers:


The sharing feature available on the social networks makes your opinion about any topic
reach huge number of people (even to those who are not on your friends list). We have the
option to make groups with people who are like minded and share the related news with them
and ask for their opinion or input about the topic. Simply there are a number of options
available for us to communicate with others on these social networks.

-Opportunities for Businesses:

Social networks have become a crucial part of many of us. We don’t even notice this but as
soon as we open our desktops or laptops to access the web, we sub-consciously open our
favorite social network just to see about the updates received. Businesses have noticed the
value of social networks in our life, and they are using different techniques to promote their
products. There are a number of customized applications being made on the social platforms,
whose main purpose is to promote the product or brand. As social marketing is cost effective
and brands have a huge audience, they are shifting more towards social marketing.

Negative Effects:

-Leads to Addiction:

Many studies have shown that the extensive use of social media can actually cause addiction
to the users. Throughout their day, they feel to post something on their pages or check others
posts as it has become an important part of our life.

-Lead to Isolation:

Extreme usage of social media has reduced the level of human interaction. Because of social
networks the interaction with other people has become effortless and people have isolated
their lives behind their online identities. Face to face communication and meetings has been
reduced and many of us have lost the flavor and charm to be together under one roof.

-Affecting Productivity:

Mostly businesses use social media to find and communicate with clients. But it is a great
distraction to employees, who may show more interest in what their friends are posting than
in their work tasks.

What the Arab Spring Tells Us About the


Future of Social Media in Revolutionary
Movements
by Richard A. Lindsey

Journal Article | July 29, 2013 - 7:53pm


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What the Arab Spring Tells Us About the Future of Social Media in Revolutionary
Movements

Richard A. Lindsey

Introduction

The Arab Spring spawned a series of revolutionary movements that are unique in that they
utilized social media as an effective means to spread information and promote insurgent
agendas. This revelation deserves consideration in all future discussions of revolutions and
the concepts of ideology, narrative, momentum and unifying motivations. The Arab Spring
uprisings are the first collective movements of their kind in the Middle East after the internet
and social media revolutions of the late 20th/early 21st centuries, and tactics, techniques and
procedures utilized by resistance populations during the Arab Spring may affect future
movements. The factors of social media affecting public opinion and international support,
rapid dissemination of news, widespread messaging, and the ability of the individual to
spread information globally are relatively new phenomena during revolutions. Likewise,
regimes and counter-insurgents can implement social media to meet their own agendas in
never before seen ways. That the future of revolutionary movements in globalized societies
will involve social media is assured, but the degree to which it will is yet to be determined.

Phases of Insurgency

Before discussing how social media affected the Arab Spring and will affect future
revolutionary movements, first it is important to identify how revolutions are phased. There
comes a point in any insurgency where it must move beyond the reach of social media, and
tangible gains must be made on the ground – positions occupied, personalities deposed,
systems replaced, logistics realized, and governments overthrown. Messaging, information,
ideology and narrative are only an aspect of a successful insurgency, albeit a truly necessary
aspect.

U.S. Army Special Forces doctrine identifies three phases of insurgencies: the
Latent/Incipient Phase, followed by Guerrilla Warfare, and finally a War of Movement.[i]
Drawn from the writings of Mao Tse-Tung, this doctrine admits that although "successful
insurgencies pass through common phases of development…not all insurgencies experience
every phase…[and] the same insurgent movement may be in different phases in separate
[locations]."[ii] The first phase, Latent or Incipient, offers the greatest opportunities for social
media as an organizing tool and informational vehicle. During this phase, leadership or
organizers of resistance movements must recruit, spread ideology, establish cellular
intelligence networks, and develop sources for external support. Social media offers a conduit
for communication, and facilitates these activities. Social media cannot conduct the attacks
and sabotage, establish the administrations and organizations, or advance the social and
economic development that is crucial to the latter phases of an insurgency. As Barrie Axford
says in "Talk About a Social Revolution: Social Media and the MENA Uprisings," "[t]he
digital public sphere, if such it is, may increase the number and range of participants but, in
terms of outcomes, it could still be argued that bombs, guns, and Apache attack helicopters
tip insurrections and win revolutions."[iii]

Nevertheless, the mobilization of ideas and people is a consistent requirement throughout,


and clandestine communication can be enhanced with social media. As has been seen in
Syria, social media offers a medium for obtaining international sympathy and support for a
cause. Propaganda, one of the rebels' greatest tools, is made easier and more efficient by
technology. Furthermore, recruiting new insurgents, traditionally one of the more difficult
tasks of an insurgency, is made much easier by social media. As Steven Metz observes in
“The Internet, New Media, and the Evolution of Insurgency,” it “takes a special person to
become an insurgent, to undertake the personal danger and hardship it entails…[and] finding
those rare people was difficult…[but] the Internet and new media greatly increase the ability
of insurgents to find the type of recruits they are seeking.”[iv] With the creativity of its users
as its major limitation, social media will likely play a larger role in future revolutionary
movements for both insurgents and counterinsurgents alike.

Information as a Weapon

"If you want to liberate [a people], give them the Internet." - Wael Ghonim, Egyptian
Activist[v]

The difference between an insurgent, revolutionary, disenfranchised citizen, or terrorist is


simply a matter of perspective. Bashar al-Assad would like the world to see the Syrian rebels
as terrorists. They would like the world to see al-Assad's regime as oppressive, criminal and
inhumane. Whereas. Axford notes that "[t]he ‘spin’ on images relayed to the outside world by
amateur clips sent via cell phone or posted on Facebook became that of innocent civilians
gunned down by marauding troops, not desperate times for the forces of law and order."[vi]
Amateur video showed rebels across the region the location of Syrian Army Republican
Guard convoys, air assets and checkpoints. The process of information collection and
processing known to the U.S. military as Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield, which is
normally conducted by thorough research and includes the mapping of threat composition
and disposition, was achieved for the rebels via compiling scores of amateur videos uploaded
by hand-held devices. It is this enriched content that makes YouTube one of the most
explosive forms of social media, as there is a vast difference in sometime saying what is
happening via Twitter or telling you how they feel about it via Facebook and them actually
showing you via video. In Syria, disabling the cell network to counter this reality would only
play into the rebels hands, but it was this cell network that was being used so effectively
against the regime. Thus is the conundrum that social media places into the hands of
oppressive or authoritarian regimes. Information has always been a weapon, but now its
accessibility and usability is reaching into never before seen realms.

In 2012, Alex Choudhary and others compiled hundreds of thousands of tweets concerning
Egypt during its 2011 revolution to analyze what "trended," why it trended, and what the
pulse of the nation was. They noted that, overall, "[t]he discussion was marked by strong
negative sentiment less cohesive than for other types of Twitter topics," but that inspirational
stories (human interest) constituted over 15% of tweets and general news covered up to
65%.[vii] An overall picture of the Twitter scene in Egypt shows that (a) the population was
disenfranchised, (b) they were thirsty for updates on events, and (c) they still cared about
personal-level stories during the revolution. Negative tweets about Mubarak's government,
tweets about personal hardship, and tweets about events affecting each dominated Egypt in
2011. Over 5 million Egyptians were on Facebook at the start of the revolution, and the page
"We Are All Khaled Said" is credited with aiding youth movements in organizing and
facilitating messaging and outreach to other populations, including the 18-day occupation of
Tahrir Square.[viii] Statistically, according to Emma Hall, Facebook users in Egypt rose from
450,000 to 3 million in the six months following the revolution, and now stand at 5
million.[ix] In Egypt, the role social media played in the most recent revolution may be
dwarfed by the role it plays in the next one, as the population appears to be embracing digital
technology.

Information can take many weaponized forms, but for the revolutionary simply spreading the
occurrence of true events may be advantageous. In both Syria and Egypt, government forces
activities directed at population and resources control measures (PRCM) played into
revolutionary hands and legitimized the narrative and ideology of the partisans, insurgents,
opposition and rebels of those nations. The modern, globalized world is also information-
starved, and social media has adapted to this reality. In 2009, Twitter changed its prompt
from “what are you doing?” to “what’s happening?” and, as Blake Hounshell says, “[o]ne of
the fastest ways to tell whether someone's not worth following is if they're still answering that
first question.”[x]

Another weaponized form of information is propaganda, which stands counter to real-time


events in that propaganda may or may not be true. Technology, globalization and social
media have altered the propaganda landscape permanently. Dennis Murphy and James White
note that:

The historical use of information as power was primarily limited to nation-states. Today a
blogger can impact an election, an Internet posting can recruit a terrorist, and an audiotape
can incite fear in the strongest of nation-states, all with little capital investment and certainly
without the baggage of bureaucratic rules, national values (truthful messaging), or
oversight.[xi]

What social media has done, or at least helped, is to weaponize information down to the
individual level. Whether social media facilitates information as a weapon in the form of
truth or propaganda for the revolutionary, or terrorist, again is subject to a combination of
perspective and reality. What is not up for debate is the access to the world that social media
has provided to the individual, and vice versa.

social media cannot replace the physical actions required for successful revolutions,
especially in the latter Guerrilla Warfare and War of Movement phases where social
institutions require decisive alterations, violence may be necessary, and job titles must
change. Daniel Schorr puts it well in his article “Iran’s Twitter Revolution,” saying
“[p]erhaps one should not exaggerate the effects of the cyberspace battle in Iran…[t]he
beleaguered regime still has the instruments of repression, the guns and the truncheons.”[xiii]
Furthermore, social media holds minimal utility during the transition phase of an insurgency
into a government. As Jon Alterman notes, “[s]ocial media are not evidently helpful in
facilitating political bargaining in constitution-writing processes, and social media have only
played a limited role in helping form new political parties.”[xiv]
But, social media also has its limitations in the first phases of social movements and
revolutions, through a phenomenon Malcolm Gladwell calls “weak ties,” or in other words,
the kind of ties that individuals share via social media, as opposed to strong ties characteristic
of personal relationships.[xv] Gladwell proposes that weak ties do not lead to high-risk
activism, and offers the Civil Rights Movement as an example, saying that activists during
the Civil Rights Movement were not participating due to shared ideology, but instead due to a
personal connection to the movement, through a friend or number of friends.[xvi] On the
other hand, Gladwell notes, “Facebook activism succeeds not by motivating people to make a
real sacrifice but by motivating them to do the things that people do when they are not
motivated enough to make a real sacrifice,” such as donate an average of 9 cents per person
to the Save Darfur campaign.[xvii]

This argument offers an interesting counter to the social media proponents – the more high-
risk a revolution becomes, the less useful social media will be. For example, Facebook may
be enough to sway a representative to vote a particular way on an issue, but not enough to
force that representative to resign. Assuming personal risk will first require the prerequisite of
a personal investment of some sort, and traditional relationships are the most efficient
mechanism through which these ties are realized.

Another limitation of social media, along the same lines, is a gap in the level of participation
of social media users. One million likes on a Facebook page does not translate into one
million mobilized volunteers, or even one million people who agree with the cause of the
host. As Blake Hounshell notes, “I've also been tweeting about the Arab revolutions, pretty
much day and night. Does that make me a revolutionary? Not at all. Despite all the sweeping
talk about it, Twitter isn't the maker of political revolutions.”[xviii] While the Tahrir Square
occupation was made possible by Facebook, how many users liked the page or indicated they
would be there and then did not show up? Such data may not be possible to calculate, but the
gaps between weak ties and high-risk activism and the level of participation in a social
movement do exist, and they are a weakness to social media’s application in support of an
insurgency.

Although trends seem to indicate that more and more individuals will use social media as
time passes, there is still the question of exactly how many people utilize social media now.
In the Middle East, the images of youthful protesters “taking to the streets” with cell phones
in hand and terms such as “the Twitter Revolution” tend to mask the facts that indicate that
the Middle East is, in fact, not really using social media. According to the White Canvas
Group, who presented to us at Fort Campbell a series of statistics on social media usage,
Kuwait has the highest usage rate for Twitter in the Middle East – at 8.13%.[xix] The
numbers for the Arab Spring countries are even more alarming: Egypt 0.26%, Tunis 0.10%,
Libya 0.07% and Yemen 0.02%.[xx] Ironically, the same presentation claimed that in Libya
(where revolution succeeded), Twitter participation decreased by 9.37% during the
revolution, as compared to Syria (where revolution has not yet been successful), where
Twitter participation has increased by 40.18% throughout. Also, Alterman notes that up to
70% of Egyptians have access to satellite television, meaning that television programs such
as Al Jazeera, a 20th century source of information and propaganda, were likely a more
important player in the revolution than social media.[xxi]

Another limitation of social media in insurgencies is the dynamic of leadership and the
internal heading of an insurgency, revolution or social movement. As Metz notes, “[t]he early
stages of most insurgencies involve as great an internal struggle as an external one.”[xxii]
Thus, what appears to be a strength of social media, the involvement of a multitude of users
at the individual level, also presents quite the conundrum – who is in charge? When over
100,000 people of Facebook organize a march into Tahrir Square, what is the overarching
theme of the march, is the message unified, what is the most crucial goal that must be
accomplished, and how can that march be parlayed into a successful revolutionary act? In
societies where internet usage is low, the users are likely to be the natural leaders in that
society, or what James DeFronzo calls the “dissident elite.”[xxiii] This may mitigate this
limitation to some extent. But, leaderless organization at the lowest levels creates mass
movements instead of focused movements, limiting gains of revolutionary activities and
providing regimes with more response options and potentially less disastrous consequences.
For example, a mass protest may be settled with government concessions, provided that the
regime does not retaliate on protestors. Such an event would play into the hands of the
regime, which would gain legitimacy in the minds of its constituents – exactly what the
revolutionary does not want to happen. At no point during the so-called “Million Man
March” in 1995 was the United States government in danger of losing control of its status,
despite a mass number of individuals participating in public discourse.