Thursday, October 30, 2014
 

Social Media: Can It Hurt Democracy?

This is a follow-up to a series by NATO Review on the role of social media in nascent democracy movements. 

I have a brief appearance in this video and the previous one, “Political Change: What Social Media Can and Cannot Do.”

 

State Dept to Spend $28 Million to Avoid Internet Crackdowns

From Bloomberg:

The U.S. State Department is set to announce $28 million in grants to help Internet activists, particularly in countries where the governments restrict e-mail and social networks such as those offered by Facebook Inc., Twitter Inc. and Google Inc. (GOOG)

The program, which has drawn Republican criticism and budget cuts, has produced software that is spreading widely in Iran and Syria, helping pro-democracy activists avoid detection, said Dan Baer, deputy assistant secretary of state for democracy, human rights and labor.

Read more here

[In February, Secretary of State Clinton gave a speech at Georgetown University declaring "free and open Internet" as U.S. foreign policy.]

One must proceed with wisdom and caution when outside influences try to “help” grassroots communication. The Internet is one of the most powerful tools given to political organizers, but there are risks involved as well. Each one of us who participates in any online interaction is giving away some aspect of our privacy as well.

Though I consider myself to be a “fan” of social media as a means of social change, there can be a downside. This interview I did with NATO Review explores some of the dangers of social media to social movements.

As some have noted, social change and political activism existed before long social media came on the scene. Social media can’t take credit for what has happened in Tunisia and Egypt, but in my opinion, it has served as a catalyst that speeds up the process and brings events to the world’s attention faster.

 

 

Social Media a Must for Presidential Campaigns

The L.A. Times examines the impact the 2008 Obama Web strategy has had on political campaigning, in particular how intrinsic a role online campaigning will play in the 2012 presidential race. (I, for one, am looking forward to the entertainment value of Donald Trump’s campaign website.)

The Times references a Pew Research Report stating that more than 1 in 5 voters turned to social networking sites for political information prior to the November 2010 midterms.

Read the full report, “The Internet and Campaign 2010.”

Chart: Pew Internet_Internet and Campaign 2010_Point of View

Source: The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, November 3-24, 2010 Post-Election Tracking Survey. N=2,257 adult internet users ages 18 and older, including 755 cell phone interviews; Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish. n=1,167 based on online political users. This chart is based on data from “22% of online Americans used social networking or Twitter for politics in 2010 campaign,” a report on politics and social media by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. This report is available in full on our website at http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2011/The-Internet-and-Campaign-2010.aspx. The Pew Internet & American Life Project is one of seven projects that make up the Pew Research Center, a nonpartisan, nonprofit “fact tank” that provides information on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world. The Project produces reports exploring the impact of the internet on families, communities, work and home, daily life, education, health care, and civic and political life. For more information about the Project, please visit http://pewinternet.org/About-Us.aspx.
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Generational Use of Gadgetry

Infographic from the Pew Internet & American Life Project on age and usage of communication/New Media tools.

 

And Now for Something Completely Different…

In my other life, I am a freelance writer. Most writers wear many hats.

I just found out that a piece I wrote for Saveur about collard greens has been nominated for a James Beard Foundation Journalism Award.

Food and politics may seem far apart to some, but to me whether I’m working on a campaign or a magazine or blog piece, it’s about creating a narrative that (I hope) others find interesting and engaging.