We often think of social media as a catalyst for positive movements; I think most of us accept the notion that they are utilized efficiently and responsibility to advocate for important issues. So when different organizations take advantage of social media to propagate their own, potentially cruel causes, it is interesting to see the repercussions unfold.
Having learned a great deal about ISIS and their social media usage throughout this class, I have seen the extensive horror demonstrated as well as the acumen materialized through their movement. Objectively, you can say their content is unspeakable, shocking, and outright hurtful. Difficult to watch, but engaging to talk about. Their strategic utilization of social media to advance their political and personal agendas is actually one of the reasons they are winning the social media war, in my opinion. The Arab Springs movement can be described as one of its antecedents and consequently, has interesting attachments to their social media presence. Through the course of the Arab Springs uprisings, there was a revolution of social media. With younger protesters taking to the streets, smartphone in hand, there was much more accessible content than you would expect to receive from these troubled parts of the Middle East (Bruns, Burgess, Highfield). Through online networks, activist groups were formed and mobilized, truly emphasizing the role of the internet. Awareness rose, hashtags surfaced, and people became outraged.
Simultaneously, a young girl was becoming the face of education amidst these revolutions. Malala Yousafzai became a beacon of hope for young girls across Pakistan and in so many parts of the Middle East. The commercialization of her brand serves to demonstrate the importance and effect of social media in contemporary society. After browsing her film’s site, it is clear that there are many platforms on which she advocates for education and rights for young women. Through her film, book, and authentic online presence, she contributes to the growing digital world we live in and does so in a positive manner. Her name emanates visibility and this mental image of her rebelling against the Taliban in the name of education. Malala is a great example of how social media facilitates understanding and positive impact in the world. Malala and the Arab Springs movement are both integral reminders of how online platforms can be steered to raise awareness and evoke emotions that are otherwise dormant as a result of ignorance. Whether positive or negative, the impact can be instrumental in furthering a cause.
Bruns, Axel, Tim Highfield, and Jean Burgess. “The Arab Spring and Social Media Audiences: English and Arabic Twitter Users and Their Networks.” American Behavioral Scientist 57, no. 7 (July 1, 2013): 871–98.