Reflection on “The Political Power of Social Media” by Clay Shirky
The Political Power of Social Media written by Clay Shirky and published in 2011 analogize both the successes and the failure of regime changes trough different types of social media. Shirky gives different examples in which it is proofed that the pressure of civil society, by using text messages or other tools, might cause governments to collapse.
Even if he has a critical look at the internet freedom that can develop the process of mass protest he also see social media as a powerful instrument to “compensate for the disadvantages of undisciplined groups by reducing the costs of coordination”. Social media have been used as a platform to bring a community together and also to document what is going on in the world. Beside that Shirky also mentioned Katz and Lazarsfeld’s two-step process and that internet and the internet freedom can be use as the second step because it helps one to create their own opinion by using different blogs and online communities.
But not only the society is getting better and better by using social media for political action, also governments using these tools. Some governments like China are not only using the Internet for political action but also using the alternative of shutting down the internet or mobile phone networks. Of course those methods bring problems and may activate mass protest even more.
What’s missing in Shirky’s journal is the combination of using social media and standard media as TV and Newspapers to create a revolution. Using this combination caused fro example the Arabic spring. Even if the effect of social media was revolutionary, standard media was important too. Internet and social media helps to quicken the flow of information, enable to express the own opinion somehow and make a fast coordination of bringing people together possible, but the standard media is necessary too. The latter even informs the part of the society which is not using social media platforms or even the internet for example elderly persons or one’s who can not effort the internet access due to the income or social class, where as the young intellectual middle-class mostly uses the internet to inform their selves. Although we know the Arabic spring was caused because of the young generation using social media you can’t leave out to mention other types of media. Of course Shirky wants to focus of the social media in the politics but I think he should have at least mentioned that standard media gives some effects on the revolutions also.
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