Batch, 1

Course Number: 102
Course Name: Introduction to Global Issues
Topic: Impact of Social Media on Global Events

Submitted By: Submitted To:
Md. Riaz Uddin Ehsanul Haque
Roll: ZR-28 Associate Professor
Date of Submission: 12-5-2014 Department of International Relations

s a society, social media impacts our daily lives in ways that we could have never
imagined five years ago. 81 percent of divorce lawyers have confirmed an increase in
cases using social networking evidence in the last 5 years. Social networking sites like
Facebook, Youtube and Twitter are fast becoming a constant source of alternative news for
Internet users, and also becoming a channel in which users can direct the focus of national news
Twitter has become known for breaking news ahead of traditional media. Users were practically
tweeting about the 2011 D.C. earthquake as it was happening. Users in New York City were
seeing tweets about the quake appear in their streams half a minute before they even felt it; talk
about predictive tweeting. Social media is breaking the news first, and it‟s just as often part of
the story, touching our lives and shaping our memories.
Networks like Facebook and Twitter give citizens a sounding board to be heard by the rest of the
world. The chatter is often just noise, but when large groups of users join together for a common
cause, it makes world news. Sometimes, it even changes the world itself.

Impacts of Social Media:

Mobilizing Supporters on the Ground and Online:
When used effectively, social media can rally supporters to engage in actions that advance a
common goal. In Brazil, a CGI commitment is doing just that, employing social media and
mobile gaming to "bite back" against dengue fever.
According to the World Health Organization, more than 40 percent of the world's population is
at risk from dengue–a mosquito-borne infection that causes flu-like illnesses. There are an
estimated 50-100 million dengue cases annually, and around 500,000 severe cases require
hospitalization. To stem the growth of dengue cases in Latin America, the UBS Optimus
Foundation will launch the Dengue Torpedo, a mobile-based tool that will crowdsource
mosquito breeding sites in Rio de Janeiro. Through gameplay and interactive tools–including
mini-blogs, social networks, and maps–the commitment plans to organize and engage more than
1,000 households across 10 neighborhoods in an effort to eliminate breeding sites.
While the UBS Optimus Foundation is working to drive action on the ground, another
commitment is working to mobilize online supporters in an effort to deliver clean drinking water.
Every day, more than 4,000 children die from diarrhea caused by dirty drinking water. Through
their Children‟s Safe Drinking Water commitment, Procter & Gamble is working to deliver clean
drinking water and save a life every hour, 24/7.

Elevating Efforts by Increasing Awareness and Contributions:
Social media also provides an avenue for issues to generate awareness and raise contributions
that support specific projects or actions. In Hawaii, the Blue Planet Foundation is developing
"WEfficiency," a platform that will help nonprofits raise capital to fund energy efficiency
projects that will lower their monthly energy bills. Through the platform, organizations will be
able to broadcast proposed savings and collect donations. Then, the initial energy savings can
either be paid back to contributors, used in future projects, or given back to the nonprofit.
Catapult, a crowd-funding platform announced in 2012 by Women Deliver, rallies contributions
to support projects that empower women and girls around the world. Online audiences can find
projects to support directly, see exactly what efforts their contributions are being put toward, and
encourage their friends and family to get involved by joining funding teams via social media.

Connecting Individuals to Information, Peers, and Resources:
Social media‟s greatest potential may lie in the connections that are created on the platforms, and
their ability to shine a light on issues sometimes ignored by other forms of traditional media. In
2011, to capitalize on this opportunity, the U.S. Department of State‟s Office to Monitor and
Combat Trafficking in Persons announced a commitment to develop a social media platform to
build awareness and engagement around human trafficking.
This platform, called the "Slavery Footprint," provides a mechanism for users to learn how their
daily lifestyles contribute to the demand of human trafficking, and proposes actionable
opportunities for combating trafficking around the world. Through the platform, individuals
complete a survey about their daily routines and learn how different products connect to the
worldwide demand for human trafficking. The initial response was so overwhelming that it
initially crashed the site, with millions of people from more than 200 countries visiting the
website. Within one year of the site's launch, more than one million people had completed the
survey and calculated their individual slavery footprint.
Online networks not only connect individuals to information–they can also build upon peer and
local communities to drive further engagement. For his CGI U 2013 Commitment to Action,
Brown University student Drew Heckman launched the Queer Nebraska Youth Network to
connect LGBTQ youth in his home state to peers, local organizations, and resources. The
initiative features an active online, peer-moderated discussion where the more than 500 members
of the network can connect with each other and find out about local opportunities and social
events. Through the tool, Drew says that "people start to find they‟re not as isolated as they
think" as they build new connections in the online network and their local community.

Recent Examples of Global Phenomenons:

Revolution in Iran:
Speaking of revolutions, following the 2009 Iranian Presidential Elections there were extensive
protests disputing the victory of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Known as the “Green Revolution”,
supporters of opposition rallied around the world, using Twitter as a base of operations. 36
people were confirmed dead after the protests as police suppressed both peaceful and violent
protests using less-than-lethal weaponry and batons. Iranian authorities responded to the protests
by closing universities, blocking websites, banning assembly and blocking cell phone
Dubbed with the hashtag #Iranrevolution, the Internet banded together to change their location to
Tehran so the government would not trace the journalists and the citizens who were tweeting
updates from Iran.

Hundreds of thousands of people across the globe backed the Iran revolution by retweeting and
sharing reports and news stories, changing their avatar to green in support of The Green
Movement and changing their locations on social media to throw off the government going after
those who opposed.
The anniversary of Iran‟s first revolution is one of the most important days in the Iranian
political calendar. The government warns against protesters and goes on full alter to ensure
everyone stays “in check” but when people feel so strongly about something, they will always
find a way to speak their peace.
Social Media Green Avatars:
Thousands of users changed their profile pictures in support of the Iran revolution movement.
Popular Twitter users who abstained were berated by their followers for not switching.
It was a fantastic day to spread awareness as people all over social media asked “Why is your
avatar green?” When witnessed, it‟s the kind of thing you remember for a lifetime. It‟s far more
vivid than anything you will read in a history book and even those not from the area feel a strong
connection via social media.

Trayvon Martin Shooting:

Many Americans were shocked by the explosion of racial tension sparked by the shooting of a
young black male, Trayvon Martin, who was shot dead by George Zimmerman in Sanford,
Florida. Community members accused Zimmerman, who was part of the neighborhood watch at
the time, of racial profiling that was exacerbated by Trayvon Martin‟s dark hooded sweatshirt.
The case did not garner national news coverage until social media users brought it to the
attention of potential supporters on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. Social media users showed
their support for Martin by posting pictures of themselves in hoodies, causing national news
organizations to give it more attention.

This now iconic image of a hooded Trayvon Martin became a symbol for supporters calling for
George Zimmerman‟s arrest. After the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin, the subject of hoodies
would cross the fashion genre and become a political one. It became a symbol and a way to show
solidarity and support for Trayvon, others like him and a symbol of racial equality in America.
The case brought Florida‟s controversial “Stand your ground” law to the forefront of the
discussion, causing other states to question the popularity their own laws.

Thousands of demonstrators have been protesting the 17-year-old‟s death by wearing
hoodies like the one Trayvon wore the night he was killed. Thousands more people have taken to
social media to share and Tweet photos of themselves in hoodies and still others changed their
profile pictures to that of Trayvon‟s black and white image in support. Widespread public
support eventually pressured the District Attorney‟s office to charge George Zimmerman with
second-degree murder. It has also caused Florida legislators to review their own laws regarding
self-defense, particularly the controversial “stand your ground” law.

Arab Spring:
The overthrow of long-term autocratic governments in Tunisia and Egypt at the start of 2011, the
battle by rebels to defeat troops supporting the 42-year rule of Muammar Qadafi in Libya and the
civilian unrest in Syria and Bahrain calling for democratic change: all of this represents the
biggest change in Arab politics for decades. The start of the unrest was in Tunisia and the spark
was the self-immolation of a market stallholder, Mohammed Bouaziz, on 10 December 2010.
Unrest spread quickly through Arab countries in North Africa and the Middle East and the
impact of the political changes is likely to be profound and difficult to predict.
Western countries have generally supported the „spread of democracy in the region‟ and a lot of
attention has been given to the positive influence of technology in promoting the successful
revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt. In fact the first reported use of social networking websites by
dissident groups taking part in a civil revolt was in Moldova, a small country between Romania
and Ukraine, in April 2009. After events in the Arab world in 2011, many political and media
commentators have predicted that the modern widespread availability of the internet, satellite
communications and mobile phones will encourage the growth of similar movements in other
African and Arab countries.

Rapid internet interaction through Twitter and Facebook gave information to the protesters about
how to counteract the security forces as they tried to disperse the protesters, maps showing
locations for protest meetings and practical advice about such things as what to do when teargas
is used against groups of protesters. All of these things increased the pressure that the protest
movements were able to exert on their governments. The governments in Tunisia and Egypt
were very unhappy about the often brutal images of repression of the protests by government
security forces and both governments tried to block the social-networking sites. In Tunisia, the
effect was to increase the size of protest demonstrations and the Tunisian president, Zine el
Abidine Ben Ali, was forced to change his strategy. He apologized for blocking the sites and
reopened them. He offered to open talks with the dissident groups but by that time it was too late
to save his government. He resigned on 16 January and an interim coalition government was set

The Egyptian government‟s decision to cut all communication systems, including the internet
and mobile phones, on the night of 27 January was widely perceived to be a watershed moment
in the overthrow of the Mubarak government. The decision was instantly condemned by human
rights organizations across the world and many other governments. Egyptian protest
sympathizers were unable to watch events on their computers and televisions and joined the
demonstrators in Tahrir Square instead. The Mubarak government stepped down on 12 February
and was replaced by a military council purporting to support democratic change. Thus, Arab
spring spread through other Arab countries one by one. The global effect of Arab revolution has
been immense & it has showed us the power of social media to a great extent.

Some other examples:
 In November 2010, Wikileaks released the first batch of classified diplomatic cables, sparking
the controversy over whether Julian Assange is a champion of free speech or a war criminal. No
matter what side you fall on – and there seems to be little middle ground here – everyone can
agree on one thing: Wikileaks would not have been possible, or able to make such an impact,
without the social media infrastructure to disseminate information far and wide, and fast.
 Even the world‟s oldest, most established democracies can hit some bumps in the road, as we
saw when riots broke out in the London suburbs. Authorities blamed text and instant messaging
for inciting the violence, even threatening a social media black out. Then British police turned
around and used the very same technology to track and arrest rioters through their smart phones.
 Elsewhere in London, social media took a more celebratory tone in the weeks leading up to the
Royal Wedding. In the days before the ceremony, nearly 70% of social media mentions were
about the pending nuptials.
 While social media helped mark the beginning of a marriage, it also led to the end of a
career. When Anthony Weiner‟s Twitter pictures surfaced, America saw the first political
scandal caused entirely by a social network – a scandal that wouldn‟t have been possible only a
few years ago. These events made us question the private use of social media by public officials
– and made public officials rethink how they interact and communicate with constituents in
digital space.
 Perhaps one of the significant ways social media has changed our world is in how we view and
react to disasters. Today, millions can bear witness to disasters and the immediate aftermath from
half way around the world. When an 8.9-magnitude earthquake shook the coast of Japan,
millions of people were able to watch the resulting tsunami in near real-time. With phone
outages that followed, Twitter and Facebook became lifelines to loved ones for Japanese affected
by the disaster.


In all these cases, social media has had an impact, especially as the course of events evolved.
Real-time communication platforms like Twitter and Facebook have spread the word about
what's happening within these nations, long before the mainstream media prints the story. These
tools have also created a level awareness we've never seen before.
We have to be realistic, though: new media isn't going to stop censorship, overthrow oppressive
regimes, or heal the people. Social media has transformed communication, media, and the
transmission of information, but it still takes people on the ground to pull people out of the
rubble or to fight for freedom.
Social media acts as both the first warning and the rallying cry for mobilization. In the end
though, social media is just a collection of tools. It's up to us, the people, to make the real impact
on our world.


 http://mashable.com/2010/01/17/social-media-political-impact
(Accessed on: 30-4-2014)

 http://www.forbes.com/sites/ciocentral/2011/09/22/a-look-back-and-ahead-at-social-medias-
(Accessed on: 30-4-2014)

 http://newint.org/books/reference/world-development/case-studies/social-networking-in-the-
(Accessed on: 30-4-2014)

 Peter R.Scott, J. M. (2011). Auditing social media a governance and risk guide. New Jersey:

 Qualman, E. (2009). Socialnomics: how social media transform the way we live and do
business. New Jersey: Wiley.