What do the overthrowing of dictators, an anti-piracy act, and a Ugandan warlord all have in common? Aside from all being major political events, they also have a common thread of social media, which is becoming much more heavily influential in the political world. Twitter (News - Alert) was a powerful force during the revolutions in the Middle East, and the complete backlash to the SOPA bill virtually killed it in a matter of days.
Many people in positions of power are complaining as to how they are now under constant scrutiny and every action they make or thing they say can be responded. For example, radio talk show host and pundit Rush Limbaugh received plenty of flak across social media networks for his comments during the contraception debate in Washington, and lost a lot of sponsors because of it.
Although rather than lamenting the adoption and usage of social media there are two main reasons people in power should be welcoming it. The first is that is a nice step towards getting citizens involved with what is going on in their own country as well as the rest of the world. With only about half or even less of the nation making its way to polls during elections, social media could act as a force to change that. Not only is it simple for people to stay up to date on political news but also to voice their opinion with a few clicks on their phone.
Social media can also work towards campaigning. With the billions of dollars already spent on campaigns year round, it might be possible for politicians to cut back on that by doing some promotion through social media. Plus social media can help any campaign in learning how people are collectively responding to it, or if they are responding to it at all.
Social media has become embedded into the political world and its likely going to stay there for some time. But this is by no means a bad thing as it has created the building blocks to give citizens a collective voice and created an avenue to help them get involved.
Edited by Jennifer Russell