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Social Networking Sites - Essay Example

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Social networking sites are a place where individuals can state their opinions without reservation. This opinion varies from individuals who feel that a candidate-elect would make the best president to those who feel that their government is oppressive, or even that congressmen feel that passing certain bills into law would be beneficial to his constituents. …
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Download file to see previous pages Some people disagree, arguing that individuals should not use social networking sites as a forum of airing their opinions as these sites are not safe and have landed people in legal and personal problems. While these arguments are valid, people’s convictions should not be suppressed as voicing them out has created awareness on political subjects, thus revolutionizing politics. Social networking sites have been criticized as being ineffective in conducting political change as political activists form or join like-minded groups. They do not foster any action. Critics have also added that people join advocacy groups in sites like Facebook and ignore every message these groups send to them (Delany). However, these like-minded groups have taken things a step further. Levi Russell, a communications director of the Tea Party Express, said, “Facebook allows us to promote and organize events in a whole new way [...] it is one of the most targeted and flexible tools we use. Our supporters are able to really take ownership of events in their area by sharing, discussing and inviting their friends in a very visual and tangible format (Unze o3a).” Furthermore, through social networking sites, protests have been arranged that have led parliaments to be dissolved and dictatorial leaderships to step down. One of the cyber organizers of the recent Egyptian protest, Wael Ghonim, said, “I am talking on behalf of Egypt [...] this revolution started online [...] this revolution started on Facebook (Smith).” Wael Ghonim demonstrated how instrumental social networking sites are in transforming politics. It has also been claimed that the state has a powerful means of monitoring or interdicting the tools on social networking sites, rendering them inactive as a tool of change in the political scenery and as such strengthening authoritarian regimes. These authoritarian regimes, apart from scrutinizing social networking sites, have also had them shut down (Shirky 28-41). Notwithstanding, this does not stop individuals from stating their opinions about pertinent issues with their leadership. In fact, by the government shutting down these websites, the end effect achieved is that everyone is alerted to what is going on in the state, causing the news to spread faster. Also, internet shutdown allows people to be creative and use social networking sites to send coded messages, therefore still creating political awareness and enforcing political change in the long run (Feith 5). Furthermore, social networking sites like Twitter have an open API that allows other web service providers to insert a stream of tweets. This makes Twitter versatile even when there is an internet shutdown. For example, in Iran after the government shut down all internet sources people were still able to access Twitter. One tweet read “all internet & mobile networks are cut. We ask everyone in Tehran to go onto their rooftops and shout alaho akbar in protest #Iran Election (Suvillan).” This characteristic of Twitter has ensured continued expression of political opinions. Many have argued that social networking sites have led to individuals being maimed, killed or even imprisoned by dictatorial governments for expressing their opinion (Leynne). However, without sacrificial lambs that are willing to voice their opinions, politics would be nonexistent. In fact, states that embrace freedom of speech were first formed by people speaking out. The opposition also argues that social networking sites have led people to be sued by posting defamatory and indecent messages on their status updates. Therefore, these social ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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