Giving You A SMAC Into The Future

This is the Global SMAC! We’re working to bring you into the future of Social Media And Citizenship.

The Global SMAC has the noble goal to slice through the noise and find out just how social media has pushed us in a new direction of participation in democracy and the community. You may think social media just includes Facebook and Twitter, but you’d be wrong. Social media is everything we know and love today. It is everything from Youtube, Twitter and Facebook, to Digg, iReport and Storify. The crown for some of the most savvy usage of social media must go to Barack Obama….although Her Majesty The Queen of England did just got a Facebook.

Global SMAC’s Mission: To research, delineate, and report the information about how social media and the Internet have shaped our opinions, perceptions, and attitude on politics and community involvement.

Citizenship and democracy go hand in hand, but our view of them is being altered because of digital mediums like the Internet, specifically social media. For politicians the question is no longer, How many people can I get to my rally? It has become, How many follows can I get on Twitter? How can I spread my message to places without spending millions of dollars in TV adds? Democracy relies on the participation of its citizens to function properly. The idea of democracy has not changed, we have.

Our ideas of participation have morphed into something very different than what our founding fathers could have ever conceived. The majority of Americans have moved off of the street corner and onto the web in an attempt to support their candidates. Global SMAC will explore the reasons for this shift in participation, and how it is changing American politics.

Do we now choose our leaders based on how many people create movies and remixes of them on Youtube? Has Twitter become the “winning” factor in political campaigns? Whatever the answer it really doesn’t change the fact that social media has become a driving force behind people’s decisions regarding politics, and how the country should be run.

This “revolution” is not just in the United States, but all over the globe. More and more people are chiming in on everything dealing with Western policies, and political regimes in countries like Iran. Examples of how social media has influenced participation in world events and local ones alike are explored by our researchers. From simple case studies a clear reason for how Twitter working in the “Iranian Revolution” or how much weight Youtube had during the elections in the United States between McCain and Obama.

The data found from the research conducted by Global SMAC will either support or overthrow the ideas that have been put forth by many people. Some questions that will be answered are as follows:

1. Has social media made the public apathetic about politics and democracy?

2. Are Social network sites contributing to the conversation or masking the true problems in society?

3. Has voting been affected by social media (have more people voted because they felt empowered by social media)?

4. Do people know more information about politics and the candidates, or have they become politically polarized?

5. Has social media given people a false sense of understanding about politics and issues around the globe?

Citizenship is part of democracy, but Global SMAC is treating it as a separate entity, focusing on the individual rather than the collective outcome of whole. A simple example is a blog, or a personal web page. The internet has allowed people to develop their own personalities online, and project their voice beyond the town square and into the global conversation.

Global SMAC will explore if one person’s thoughts actually have an affect on what others do an say. Is the social media they use an effective way to deliver their message to the public, or does their voice get cut down by bigger voices like major news networks?

It is through the use of social media that many people in today’s society have been able to “voice” their opinions. Major criticisms about that often cite that almost no internet traffic goes to the majority of the public blogs. Even if that were true, does it matter? Should the value of being a citizen be measured in the amount of popularity that you have? The Global SMAC says no. Everyone has a voice, and everyone should be able to tell their story.

Global SMAC is dedicated to delivering accurate up-to-date information that is relevant to everyone living in the digital age. To learn more follow us on Twitter, or subscribe to our channel on Youtube.

The Global SMAC

~Know Your Media

The Online World

Eric Ivanov

Survey Overview

Basic Demographics

There were a few basic questions students needed to complete before continuing with the survey.  According to the survey results, approximately 43% of students who filled out our survey were seniors. About 61% of all of the students who completed the surveys were females, and 84% of the students were white.

Our Thoughts and Expectations

The Global SMAC predicted that the majority of students would feel that they are more involved in politics because of social media.  However, the SMAC also saw the opportunity for students to convince themselves that they were in fact being engaged in politics while never leaving their house to act on their statements online.  We predicted that their support would mostly be passive; joining groups posting and re posting online saying they are active but in the end never pulling the trigger and voting in the election. Before the survey we stated that students would agree that social media is used for networking and communicating, but would admit that they have received news through it and do belong to social and political groups

The Raw Data

We had asked students a few questions on social media and citizenship and democracy. The first question was: “ How frequently are you on social media sites?”  48.3% of students reported they were on these sites 0-2 hours a day.

When asked which source of information they go to, 53.2% of students stated that they receive information about politics from the television, whereas 52% percent of students receive this information from online news sites.   32.7% rarely use Facebook to get any information about politics, and 65% of students never use Twitter to get his information.

The third question was a statement : “I use social media to actively voice my opinions about things going on in the world…”  42.4% stated they “somewhat agree”, while 15.6% stated they “strongly agree”, and 17.8% percent stated they “strongly disagree.”

The fourth question was whether or not students belong to a political group, news group, or fan page on Facebook.  The answer?  63.7% of students stated they do not use Facebook for that, but 8.8% belong to a bunch of them.  The last question, “Did you vote in the 2008 presidential election?” 59.1% of students reported “yes”.

Conclusion

The results from the questions both debunked and backed up our predictions. The question asking where students get their information from came as a surprise. The majority of students get political news from the television networks as apposed to online sources, including social media. This question falls in line with the data received from the question regarding how many hours students spend on social media. However, The Global SMAC believes the data obtained from the questions might not be an accurate picture of reality due a negative social stigma attached to information being obtained from social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, causing people to choose to answer that they obtain the majority of their information from TV, which has long since been established by society as a reliable medium.

Lastly, the results of how many students actually voted in the election is not surprising. While the most students use social media to voice their opinions and ideas about what should be done in their nation/state only a small majority of people actually acted and voted in the presidential election.

Drawn on research done outside the survey it was found that only 10% of students asked actually voted in the midterm elections, while the majority of the participants knew of the obscure candidates that received less than 5% of the popular vote, because of the amount of attention they received via social media sites like Youtube and Facebook.

In all the data creates a picture of current trends in society regarding social media as a viable news assembly service. People have agreed that they have followed links to news from social media sites, and were brought to major media outlets like CNN and FOX News. Our prediction for the future; social media will become part of people’s routine to gather information. It will be a hosting site that will be the gateway to information.

By: Asra Arif & Eric Ivanov

Our Team

Six young minds came together to create a force that is taking over the convergence of social media and citizenship! Continue reading to learn more about this team that created new ways for citizens like you to participate in democracy via social media!

Asra Arif

Being a junior here, I am finally figuring out the pieces to my puzzle, and know that I want to study broadcast journalism.  I haven’t always been interested in writing and public speaking, music was my passion a few years ago.  I played the violin for ten years, and that is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.  Speaking of music, I love all kinds of music!  House, electronica, hip hop, pop, R&B, and more!  As I discovered myself, I realized I love to entertain and be a social butterfly.  Born in Queens, raised on Long Island, i love to draw, dance, sing, and go out with my friends.  I danced for many years (hip hop, indian fusion, belly dancing, and jazz are some of my favorites!)  When I am not out, I love to catch up on some reading and my shows (Trueblood, Vampire Diaries, Entourage, E! channel), going to the big apple, working out (love pilates), shopping, trying new foods at different restaurants, driving while blasting music in my car, and going to starbucks(pumpkin spice latte is back :))

Here a few sites that would describe me best:

http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=645507329

http://twitter.com/Asra_Arif

perezhilton.com & kimkardashian.celebuzz.com (I am pretty much obsessed)

xox!!

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Eric Ivanov

Me and Obama?
I could start off and tell you that I discovered that whales actually lived on land at the beginning of time…according to Wikipedia and a few other sites that’s what I am notable for… if you believe it, well, its time to rethink how you use the internet.

My name is Eric…as you should have seen above. I am a senior with a duel major in Broadcast Journalism and History. I didn’t feel like posting my entire resume, so make do with that.

The picture above looks to be me and Obama, everything seems normal about it, the shading the squinting, and even the head placement…enough to convince you that its real anyway. In fact its a fake, I photo-shopped my

head onto a picture my roommate took and I slapped it on Facebook as a joke. It fooled plenty of people. Its easy to edit your life and on the internet and eventually produce an entirely made up persona.

The Original

What is social media good for?

1. Giving people a platform to be chauvinistic, and not even confronting things that are different.

2. Making people feel like they are connected to people/friends, when all they really have is an empty cyber relationship.

3. Makes avoiding talking to people easier.

4. Letting people edit their lives…I’ve done it and I’m not ashamed.

5. Lets people express the views and feeling to thousands of people who really don’t care.

Is there anything social about social media?

I actually don’t think so. I don’t go online and talk to people and call it socializing. Society calls people who stay in their rooms and play community games, use Facebook, blogs, and just spend all of their time on the internet….ANTISOCIAL! The internet has made us less social and more reliant on a computer interface for communication.

With that being said, why do I participate in it?

I really don’t have a clue. I have a Facebook, a Youtube page, a twitter (which I only have because of our teacher), an AIM account, and Skype (but I feel like that is actually a telephone).

One of my career goals in life is to help successfully regulate the Internet and bring order to its chaos.

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Lauren Loverde

Hi everyone, my name is Lauren Loverde. I’m a Senior Public Relations major and social media takes up a large part of my life! I was first introduced to social media in high school, but now a lot of the social media I know about it is part of my major. Basically, a large part of Public Relations involves understanding social media and being able to use its capabilities for your clients.

Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn, Blogs, you name it I probably have an account. I’m really excited about taking this class because I want to know why this assignment stressed me out so much and why the answer to my stress was to go on Twitter. I want to know why social media is always the answer to my stress.

I think social media is a very interesting phenomenon. It amazes me, how much power social media can have over a person’s daily life. I could spend hours on Facebook and Twitter doing absolutely nothing. I just keep refreshing my profile page thinking that eventually there will be some new, fascinating information for me to comment on.

My take on social media is that it is a great way for people to share all sorts of information with the world. A social media account allows friends to stay connected and old friends to re-connect. I think it’s really cool how “universal” social media is and how I could talk to people all over the world about one single topic.

So, why do I participate in social media you ask? My answer is this…why wouldn’t I participate in social media? It’s awesome! It’s an easy way to procrastinate, don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about. We all do it. The best way to avoid doing homework is to spend hours on Facebook.

Here is my absolute favorite video on YouTube:

The AMAZING Charlie Bit Me! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fPDYj3IMkRI

These are some of the websites that I visit far too often:

www.Twitter.com/laurenloverde

www.Facebook.com

www.news.google.com

www.linkedin.com

www.wiggio.com

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Kimberley Cervone

Hello fellow classmates,
So, as you can tell my name is Kimberley Cervone, I’m a senior for the second time here at Hofstra because i have changed my major about 47 times. If Hofstra doesn’t screw me over, I will be graduating and out of here in December.  I was born and raised in Long Island, and will never ever leave it. I have two sisters and four brothers, and live with two of them. I find that through social media, i communicate with the other four the most through Facebook. My favorite color is green, and i love Italian anything and everything. I find myself always listening to music, and i love driving around.

I am pretty much a blank canvas when it comes to the computer and most of its social media, besides Facebook. Which is bizarre because i am a PR major. So when being asked to make this social page and state how it affects us. i guess my only response can be Facebook. I wish i could add Twitter, which i do have one but i totally and completely don’t understand it and don’t use it. I am always checking my e-mails, blackberry messenger and Facebook- considering i always have my phone on me, if i didn’t get it directly to my phone, I most likely wouldn’t check as much. i should proberbly admit that my guilty please is constantly checking social gossip as well as entertainment gossip. I have a high school crush on Perez Hilton. Hope i didn’t bore you all to death with my info and lack of social medi expierece. 🙂

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Brian Molinari

Hey everyone, my name is Brian Molinari, in case you missed the heading at the top of this page. I’ll be graduating in December and my major is TV/Video; when your life revolves around media its as if media revolves around you. I create media, enjoy media, and consume mass quantities of this stuff we call media.
I hate to admit it but I do spend a good amount of time on social media sites, Facebook and twitter make up most of that but when I’m trying to feel productive I’ll put some hours in on LinkedIn, Tumblr, or kill time with StumbleUpon. I never wanted to be the kid who is in into every new thing that drops into the world of media but I can’t help it! I love the fact that the web is taking over TV and I’m happy to get into that on the ground level. I think it is important to involve every aspect of media, putting them together and combining different types of media can bring new people together, spread knowledge, and most importantly create a better understanding of what media really is.
My media identity is somewhat blurry. Who really wants to define themselves and set limits and boundaries?? I enjoy being a productive part of “media”. I usually wont be without my phone, keeping me in-touch with twitter, FaceSpace, and any Skype friends, so I can check out the latest viral on YouTube and mindlessly send it to more people. Music and Video are a huge part of my life and so I have no choice but to dive into the deep end of this media stuff. I have no problem being on the cutting edge of whats going on and thats why I support the web-TV community as much as I can. HTVi here at Hofstra is an awesome interactive media site and I hope to help that out even more. Web-TV started to get bigger in the past two years and I jumped at the oppurtunity, so If you get a chance check out the content on that site. Also I help out on another web-TV project called Subway Sessions, its born and bred Hofstra-style. This brings musicians from the underground (literally) right onto a convenient webpage and lets you discover, interact with, and become fans of new and emerging musicians. If you get a few seconds check out www.SubwaySessions.com

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Dani Newman

 

Hello, my name is Dani. I’m taking this class because I want to understand why it took my three and a half hours to complete this assignment. It’s frightening to me that I am preparing to graduate from a school that teaches communication, yet when I try to focus on the “school” part the communication interferes. How could I resist though? With Facebook Plug Ins all over my favorite websites and email notifications sent to the mobile device that never leaves my sight? Here’s my stance, I don’t think technology is necessarily a bad thing, and I won’t go all Nicholas Carr on you (yes, I just started that terribly scary book) and say that it is literally controlling me, I just want to know what it feels like to be qualified for an entry level job in a field that I love and respect, because lets face it, you can’t be an unpaid intern forever.I run a website with a couple of good friends called www.htvinteractive.com. We showcase the work of students that make a damn good entertaining point about something or other. (Get ready, this is a plug): If you have an interest in hosting content, whether it’s a video, a blog, or an event that you would like to broadcast, come and talk to me, or just email, facebook, call, text message or tweet at me. I felt like it was ok to warn you about the plug thing, after all, the internet warns us before it spams us with a thirty second commercial in between our favorite episode of The Office.

I’ll follow Eric’s lead with this format for a hot second:

Social Media is good for:

1.     Sharing new websites, music, research, news, photos…you all have a facebook you know what I’m talking about.

2.     Seeing that your mom commented on your photo from her Mobile Device while she is sitting right next to you.  Thanks mom.

3.     Making services that you once had to pay for free. (Ex. Google Talk: Telephone Calls. Surfthechannel: Television).

4.     Sharing stranger’s drunk texts and horribly embarrassing stories that ruined their lives so that your friends can laugh at them.

5.     Competing in fake contests to be a beta tester or a winner for more and more and more electronic devices.

So why do I participate?

What type of media student would I be if I didn’t contribute to my own Internet addiction.

Here are two videos that I enjoy:

http://www.theonion.com/video/new-google-phone-service-whispers-targeted-ads-dir,17470/

http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/c0cf508ff8/prop-8-the-musical-starring-jack-black-john-c-reilly-and-many-more-from-fod-team-jack-black-craig-robinson-john-c-reilly-and-rashida-jones?rel=by_user

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Social Media & The Midterm Elections!

Social Media & The Midterm Elections

By: Asra Arif

12 million users clicked the “I voted” button on Facebook in this past years elections compared to the 5.4 million in 2008.  This number is anticipated to increase for the 2012 elections.

The founding fathers of the United States could have never predicted that this country would one day be run by the internet.  Democratic issues are in the hands of social media, especially during election season.  Social network sites heavily influenced the midterm elections of 2010.  With Facebook as one of the prime components, it was easier for us to predict the election outcome. 2

“Facebook announced earlier today that there was a direct correlation between having more followers on their social media site and campaign success”[1]

Politicians have the internet to their advantage, which affects their title in the democratic world.  This years elections took place on November 10th, and the infographics clearly demonstrate how the runner’s popularity in the cyber world mimics their popularity in the real world.

According to Mashable, the Facebook data team concluded that in following 98 of the house runners, 74% of the candidates with the most fans on the site won.  Out of the 19 senate races, 81% with the most fans also won. Although media savvy campaigners don’t always win, such as Sharron Angle and Dino Rossi, when it comes to a close race, every fan, vote, and follower counts. [2]

Research on Facebook allows us to note which kinds of people vote, when they voted, and who they voted for.  This can lead researchers to conclude a trend that followed a certain candidate, and which factors may have influenced the election.

According to Facebook data on elections, more Republican senators involved themselves on Facebook compared to Democratic senators.  Once the polls closed and the results were in, 29 states had Repulican winners, and 19 had Democratic winners. [3]

Along with Facebook, other social networking sites projected winners, and many users contributed their insight on the midterm elections.  According to SarahEvans.com, different social sites reported their numbers on the elections based on online activity:

  1. Republicans had 61% of all online mentions
  2. Republicans were more engaged in online elections than the Democrats
  3. 36% of election conversations took place on mircroblogs, and 20% of it took place on social networking sites
  4. The election received about 4.6 million page views per minute through web news traffic [4]

It is important to know how much social media can influence politics.  Runners can use feedback from social connection sites to help sway votes by knowing what issues are most important to them.  InterSearchMedia.com conducted an experiment on their Twitter and Facebook pages regarding taxes, spending, and the economy.  The results showed that the least amount of people had concerns with tax, and the most amount of people had small business initiatives as their primary concern.  Politicians can use results like this to target Americans, which can help them win. [5]

ABC News has teamed up with Facebook since 2008 to live stream election coverage.  They were able to interact with users about issues that mattered most.  This interaction revealed which users voted for which candidate, and why they did just based on their status updates, questions, comments, and their opinions. 6

“Those who were slow to realize the shift in themes via social media comments, updates, websites, keywords and group lists won’t be scratching their head – they literally saw it coming… It is crucial to begin developing strong ties with the elements behind social media that make it work better.” 5


[1] DiMarco, Chris.  “Social Media Trends Predict Winners in Mid-Term Election”

.  Published: November 03, 2010.  Retrieved: November 11, 2010.  http://election-2008.tmcnet.com/topics/technology-impact/articles/113758-social-media-trends-predict-winners-mid-term-election.htm

[2] Calabrese, Anthony.  “Social Media’s Impact on the Midterm Elections [Infographics]”

.  Published: November 09, 2010. Retrieved: November 11, 2010.  http://mashable.com/2010/11/09/social-media-elections-infographics/

[3] “Election Results: Governor Map”

.  Retrieved: November 12, 2010.  http://elections.nytimes.com/2010/results/governor

[4] Evens, Sarah.  “Mid-Term Election 2010 by Social Stats”

.  Published: November 03, 2010.  Retrieved: November 12, 2010.  http://prsarahevans.com/2010/11/mid-term-election-2010-by-the-social-stats/

[5] Admin.  “

How Social Media Impacted the 2010 Elections.  Published: November 03, 2010.  Retrieved: November 12, 2010.  http://www.torycapital.com/2010/11/03/tech/social-media-impact-2010-elections/

6 Fitzsimmons, Caitlin.  “ABC News taps into Facebook for Midterm Elections”

.  Published: October 11, 2010.  Retrieved: November 12, 2010.  http://www.allfacebook.com/abc-facebook-election-2010-10

Where Politics meets Social Media?

By: Brian Molinari

With the increased popularity of Social Media, it seems like everyone is trying to tap that resource like a secret oil well. The problem is, now everyone knows! It seemed like at first this movement was predominantly in the youth. From there, Democrats had the upper hand, but now everyone has jumped into the race.

ProjectVirginia is a conservative effort aimed at taking back some of the social media world that seems to have been dominated by Barack Obama videos and democratic blogs. This conservative blog, with the tagline: “Where politics meets social media,” is not paid for by a specific campaign or party member(s).  At its basic function, this blog-based website tells the people of Virginia whats happening in the GOP party. It has blog posts with stories about politicians and their agendas but it also has a whole lot more under the surface.

ProjectVirginia uses Twitter and Facebook statuses and comments, as well as its main blog to increase awareness about politics. They are using social media to inform and attract grown adults, making them want to support the GOP. This also works in their favor when attracting young voters and civilians. Among all blogs on the internet, ProjectVirginia is ranked 1910. That is very successful considering  they focus mostly on Virginian conservatives.

During the 2008 Presidential campaign, McCain tried to launch an agenda on the web to spread word of his policies. They offered prizes and gifts for people who sent stories, links, and videos in supporting McCain across the internet. Little did they know,  they could host a blog, Twitter account, and Facebook page themselves. Believe it or not, this campaign for social media support did little to nothing when compared to Barack Obama’s social media blitz.

ProjectVirginia stretches their audience out by blogging about national issues, politicians, or ideas. One of the stories on the main page was actually a blog post about the relationship between John McCain and MTV’s “Snooki”. Yes, that’s right. McCain and ‘Snooki” are Twitter friends, posting tweets back and forth wishing the reality star a happy birthday and even diving into issues like taxes on tanning salons. This culture jam, mixing a former presidential candidate with a current reality tv star is something that has spawned from the current social media outbreak. In the past, there would be no communication between two people of these types. Now with Social Media, politicians can seek out new supporters by connecting with celebs through social media.

Websites and blogs like this should become more popular and they are finding out how to reach the emotions of party supporters. Politicians are realizing that they need to tap this well of untouched riches. Blogging is a great way to connect with new voters and old supporters. It offers easy ways to connect your blog with any other social media outlet, such as twitter and facebook. This social media barrage can help politicians spread the word about their policies, local gatherings, and also can be used to spread stories that may drum up support for their conservative cause. The blog offers up to the second access, and always has a place on the web for citizens to look at it now or in the future.

Resources:

http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/2008/11/03/snapshot-of-presidential-candidate-social-networking-stats-nov-2-2008/
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/08/06/AR2008080603589_pf.html
http://www.wikio.com/sources/projectvirginia.com-HhOOo
http://projectvirginia.com/mccain-snooki-resume-tweeting-over-birthday/
http://twitter.com/projectvirginia

SMAC’S World

Danielle Newman

The public sphere is an active network for communicating information and points of view (1). Today’s technologies have made the public sphere easily accessible to media consumers through the use of social networks over the World Wide Web. Within a social network, the user holds the power to actively aggregate information that they would like to share with other users to whom they are connected. Free speech is encouraged in this web space and often, the only user who can delete what he or she has shared, is the user him or herself, or an external party who has deemed the content inappropriate. Social networking sites do not often constitute what is true and right, but rather what the user(s) have decided to share, allowing for every user to have an equally democratic voice. Though this democratic freedom is currently somewhat contained, it has the ability to make opinion and truth difficult to distinguish between.

[In response to Howard Rheingold’s idea of net neutrality and equal access for users to edit wiki-pages]

“Express your point of view in such a way that your opponent won’t find anything to fault in it. If before communication was defined as the sharing of meaning, now social media provides a space where meaning can be assembled without being shared, and provides the mechanisms to enforce this kind of neutrality (6).”

The number one reason for a user to join a social network is because their friends have also joined (2). Further research shows that once a user has joined a social network it is extremely unlikely that they will expire their account. While users remain active on a networking site they may open a second, third, fourth…etc, account on additional networking sites, contributing with each post to the overwhelming influx of data available online. The explosion of networking has changed the way that we both receive and distribute information (7), unintentionally affecting society’s classification of an actively democratic citizen. In the past the definition was clear-cut, a democratic citizen was an activist; Someone who would give the skin off of their back to fight for their cause. However the old activist’s voice was reliant on the main stream media to be heard by a larger audience. Today, it is possible for a so-called activist to reach the public by creating low to no budget content. Take Mashable.com for instance, a website built on a community of users who surround themselves with news stories based not on validity or political interest, but on timeliness and human interest. Sites like Mashable connect to users on a personal level by sharing with them the exclusivity of the content, such as the number of times that it has been viewed or liked. An affective social media site will also allow user dialogue on the same page as the article and makes it easy to spread the content via other networks. As communities and blog spaces continue to expand online, arguments ensue whether digital activism should measure up to the real face to face activism that our society is familiar with.

Social Networking has the ability to affect global dialogue by exploring issues that the mainstream media may have skimmed over. For instance, while the nightly news and local newspapers report on war, terror and taxes, independent bloggers and tweeters are sharing new up to date messages on issues that may have otherwise gone unreported. At first, these messages may have only reached a niche group of followers, however there is a new potential for greater outreach and popularity growth online. New technologies such as Twitter, have made it easier than ever to become a part of a niche group. Revolutionary software such as Google Translate, have made sources from around the world instantly available to non native speakers in virtually any language. Video sharing has given all citizens of the world with access to the internet, the chance to see groundbreaking tragedy on the other side of the globe, or a cute cat video,  with their own two eyes. However, if a story receives enough attention, no matter the subject, it has the ability to be picked up by the mainstream media, encouraging the voice of the people to speak up. The expanding use of social medias has enabled the rise of Citizen Journalism, opening a gateway for users around the world to connect with users in another country, within their own country or better yet, with the press.

“The distinction between producers and consumers in a digital content environment is increasingly blurred. The digital content industry must not stop at the level of the firm but must extend to the individual (3).”

In comparison to other mediums such as television and radio, Social Media and the World Wide Web allows for users to become better connected with stories in their own geographical location and on the other side of the world (6). Interactive social networks also allow users to prioritize which “type” of issues they would like to receive information about, and to customize their preferences so that their intake suits their interests. These customizations may also be used to attract passive networker’s to content with content which suits theirs interests but that they may not have discovered otherwise.

“The fact that the mass of individuals may not coordinate their actions collectively or classify them as civic engagement does not decrease the civic significance of their actions (4).”

Aside from active engagement, passive engagement on social networks can still help to foster a community and gain recognition. For instance, not every user who watches a YouTube video leaves a comment or uploads their own videos, in fact many do not even have an account. However by watching a video on YouTube you are increasing the number of views for that video by at least 1 play, adding to its popularity. Similarly, becoming a fan of something on Facebook may not lead the user to make a donation to that specific cause, however, minimal participation becomes public to other users on the site, enabling the spread of a message or campaign. If the number one reason why people join Social Networks is because their friends are doing it, think of how many people will “fan” or “like” a topic that their friends like. By making our likes and interests public, we are welcoming content based on a system of trust. For example, if a friend shares a link on your wall, you will most likely click it because it came from a person who you have invited into your social space.

“A September 19, 2007 comScore report revealed that in July 2007, viewers watched 2.4 billion videos on YouTube. The report indicated that 75% of U.S. Internet users watched online videos that month, for a total of 9 billion video streams. Average viewers spent 181 minutes watching online videos during the month (5).”

Immediacy is a key point when considering Democracy and Social Medias. In countries where free speech is not protected it is often exercised online. Twitter , Youtube and other popular networks have allowed for citizens to ban together to get their first taste of Democracy, exposing the cruelties of government and war to outside countries. However, in an effort to dismantle the cross of political swords, more frequently than not, content will be removed shortly after it is uploaded, cited as “no longer available” or better yet, “not available in your country”. However, thanks to the free nature of the Internet, a person with a powerful message has more resources today than ever before to build a platform of beliefs online and to have their voice heard by billions of people. Today, the right story can “go viral” within seconds, accumulating popularity and high volumes of peer-to-peer views. Peer-to-peer views and the level of trust and comfort which we as a society have built around the internet, could very well be the launching pad that blurs the line between the public figure who we read about in the news, and the private figures like you and me. Perhaps, in the future, we will all be public figures and equally credible contributors on the internet. As we continue to expand our global dialogue via the World Wide Web, it is unforeseen whether we will reach a point where there are too many untold stories and not enough actively democratic citizens. Or perhaps we will continue to prosper in our own social networks, continuing to decide for ourselves which information on the internet is important.

 

Resources:

(1)  Fleming, Ted: “Habermas, Democracy and Civil Society”, page 360.

(2)  www.Alexa.com

(3)  Bruns, Axel (2005) ‘‘Anyone Can Edit’: Understanding the Producer.’ The Mojtaba Saminejad Lecture.

(4)  Putnam, Robert D. (2000) Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community. New York, Simon & Schuster.

(5)  Deuze, Mark (2006) ‘Participation, Remediation, Bricolage: Considering Principal Components of a Digital Culture.’ The Information Society, 22(2): 63-75.

(6)  http://blog.ulisesmejias.com/2006/07/20/social-media-and-the-networked-public-sphere/

(7)  Shirky, Clay (2008) “Here Comes Everybody”.  The Penguin Press. New York, New York 10014.


Vote for @BarackObama!

By: Kimberly Cervone

It has been noted by hundreds of observers that President Barack Obama has an impeccable presence on the Internet, through social media. The role of social media and the Internet played a huge role in Obama’s success during the presidential campaign, post-inauguration and still today. “Obama decided that he wants to make social media tools a permanent part of his political strategy.” [1] Obama’s promise to the people was to be an easily accessible president through social media. His image and ideas were all over Twitter, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, and the blogosphere.

Barack Obama joined Twitter in April 2007 prior to the election. During the campaign there was an abundance of Twitter use by Obama, he updated his account at least once a day with news, information and videos.  Soon after his inauguration the @BarackObama account seemed to be less of a priority and the @WhiteHouse account became the main focus. The Obama Team tweets constantly from this account.

 

Obama’s usage of Facebook and MySpace during the campaign was to reach out to Obama’s social media followers. “Barack Obama has made history with his Facebook/MySpace usage.”[2] Since MySpace has slowly become less used as a site in general. His Facebook updates are still flowing with newsfeeds, videos, links, and pictures. Barack Obama is the number one most “liked” page on Facebook. Obama’s inauguration was posted on Facebook, and was viewed by millions of people.

During the campaign Obama used YouTube to add touching stories and to give people a look at his personal life behind the scenes. These efforts were beneficial because they were both personal and very active. Although Obama does still use his personal account, most of the posts come from the user The White House Channel. Practically, every day a new video is posted, whether it is his weekly video addresses, live video press conferences and town halls. These are much more effective as easily accessible visuals, then a simple radio address. These videos have certainly increased his social media press conference.

During the 2008 Presidential Campaign, both candidates had a strong blogging presence. Post-inauguration, Obama worked from two primary blogs Organizing for America Blog, and The White House Blog. The Barack Obama Team frequently updates both of these blogs. However, it has been discussed on numerous sites that the people see a personal post from Obama himself every now and then, rather then his team.

Barack Obama’s use of social media has been phenomenal.  He started with a strong online presence, and his image continues to flourish. With the help of his team, Obama will be remembered for his great quantity of social media use.

 

Resources:

Ostrow, Adam. “How Will President Obama Use His Massive Social Media Influence?” Social Media News and Web Tips – Mashable – The Social Media Guide. Web. 11 Nov. 2010. <http://mashable.com/2008/11/05/obama-social-media/&gt;.

Parr, Ben. “Obama: Does He Pass the Social Media Test?” Social Media News and Web Tips – Mashable – The Social Media Guide. Web. 10 Nov. 2010. <http://mashable.com/2009/07/04/obama-social-media-scorecard/&gt;.

 


Twitter and the Iranian Revolution

 

Twitter and the Iranian Revolution

 

By: Lauren Loverde

Background:

The political events that transpired during and after the 2009 Iranian election attracted an enormous amount of global attention, particularly due to social media. As an independent service for communication, Twitter became a preferred vehicle to broadcast events as they unfolded both within the country of Iran and to an international audience. [1]

During summer 2009, the world’s eyes were fixated on Iran. Questions were raised after Ahmadinejad was declared the winner over rival Mousavi in Iran’s Presidential elections. The potential tampering of ballots resulted in massive protests that engulfed the Islamic nation and caused a chain reaction of events that no one could have anticipated.

This graph shows the amount of tweets containing #iranelection and not containing it.

Iranian citizen’s erupted on Saturday, June 13, 2010, when the Iranian election results were revealed, announcing Ahmadinejad as the winner. It didn’t take long for supporters of presidential candidate Mousavi to take to the street in protest.

The protests became increasingly violent and on June 14th, Iran did its best to prevent the free flow of information from inside the struggling country to the outside world.

“Since the results of Iran’s presidential election were announced, with voting taking place on Friday (June 12, 2009) , chaos has ruled the country. Foreign correspondents have been kicked out, local media has not been allowed to report as power has been shut down, and the only place for people to turn to has been, unbelievably enough, Twitter.”Katy Burtner, Examiner.com

How Do You Communicate When All Forms Of Media Are Cut Off?

With the Iranian government quickly losing control of its citizens, it took drastic measures to ensure that the situation didn’t escalate globally. By clamping down on traditional forms of media, Iran brought the free flow of information to screeching halt.

As a country, Iran was persistent in its goal of keeping information of the protests within its borders. With access to Gmail completely restricted,  reporters and media outlets that were present inside the country were unable to communicate with the outside world. With Iran blocking the lines of communication they were essentially “trapping the media within the Iranian borders.”

Satellite interference prevented news outlets from broadcasting information out of the country. NBC News offices headquartered in Tehran, were raided by Iran’s regime with cameras and other equipment being confiscated. BBC World Service accused the Iranian government of “jamming its broadcasts.”[2] In his article on Iran’s role in the blockage of media during this time, Peter Horrocks said that “satellite technicians have traced the interference and it is coming from Iran…it seems to be part of a pattern of behavior by the Iranian authorities to limit the reporting of the aftermath of the disputed election.”[3]

If It Weren’t For Twitter…

With Iran eliminating the media’s access to conventional forms of media,  journalists turned to other social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to disperse information about the events taking place inside of Iran. The use of Twitter to communicate about these events is a striking instance where the spread of behaviors and ideas occurred entirelyonline.

Social media’s role in the Iran Election crisis started with #CNNFail, but that was only the beginning . As word began to spread about the events taking place in Iran, users of social media were outraged by the “lack of media coverage.” Twitter users began tweeting, adopting the hashtag #CNNFail to highlight a lack of Iran coverage from the news organization. Becoming a trending topic on Twitter is no small task and should not be taken lightly. In order for a topic to become “trending” it must be re-tweeted and tagged in multiple tweets.

According to an article on Mashable.com, between June 7th and June 27th there were nearly 2,024,166 tweets about Iran. #IranRevolution also became a trending topic on Twitter and close to 480,000 Twitter users joined the conversation.[4] Iran had the free flow of information under such a high level of security  that countries began to see the value of tweets coming from Iranian citizens and members of the general media.

Twitter’s role was so important in fact that the U.S. government became involved in the technical side of the site. Twitter had a scheduled system update planned during the height of the Iranian protests causing a stir among United States officials. The United States asked Twitter executives to delay the update in order to allow Iranian citizens to continue to real-time tweet about the events happening within their country. [5]

Social media played a huge part in the dissemination of information during the Iranian protests in 2009. If anything the world witnessed the importance of a social media network like Twitter and how valuable it can be in times of crisis.  There are several ways in which Twitter and social media helped to keep information coming out of Iran.

1. It has helped Iranians communicate with each other.

2. It has helped Iranians communicate with the outside world.

3. It has helped the rest of the world communicate with both Iranians and others who sympathize with the protesters.[6]

The Impact of Social Media:

Imagine what little insight the world would have had about the Iranian protests if reporters and citizens had not relied on social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube to disseminate information. The pieces of information that were received, and the images sent around the world broadcast a message that needed to be heard.

YouTube and Flickr brought the world photos of the protests, while Twitter and Facebook provided small pieces of information and viral videos of events as they were happening. Not only did social media  give the world the ability to see what was happening, despite Iran’s efforts to keep everything inside the country, but it also demonstrated citizen journalism at its finest.

People like Neda Soltani, who lost her life after being shot during a protest in Iran, will never be forgotten because of the viral video that was spread across various websites including Facebook and YouTube. Key moments were recorded and spread like wildfire, creating an outpouring of support for the protesters. The videos that Iranian citizens took and uploaded to the web put faces to the issue.

Resources:

Cashmore, Peter. “Staggering #IranElection Stats: 2 Million+ Total Tweets.” Mashable.com. Published: November 2009. Retrieved: November 2010. http://mashable.com/2009/07/01/iranelection-stats/

Horrocks, Peter. “Stop the Blocking Now.” BBC World News. Published: June 14, 2010. Retrieved: November 12, 2010. http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/theeditors/2009/06/stop_the_blocking_now.html

“Twitter’s Role in the Iranian Revolution.” Published: June 16, 2009. Retrieved: November 12, 2010. http://www.politicsonline.com/blog/archives/2009/06/twitters_role_i.php

Parr, Ben. “#IranElection Crisis: A Social Media Timeline.”Published: November 2009. Retrieved: November 2010. http://mashable.com/2009/06/21/iran-election-timeline/

Parr, Ben. “Social Media’s True Impact on Haiti, China and the World.” Published: October 2009. Retrieved: December 2010.  http://mashable.com/2009/06/14/cnnfail/

Cashmore, Peter. “#CNNFail: Twitter Blasts CNN Over Iran Election.” Published: December 2009. Retrieved: December 2010.  http://mashable.com/2009/06/14/cnnfail/

Morozov, Evgeny. “Iran’s Propaganda Hits The Spinternet.” Published: December 2009. Retrieved: December 2010.  http://www.cnn.com/2009/OPINION/12/29/morozov.dicatorships.internet/index.html?iref=allsearch