Over the past few weeks, the notion of media impacting political changes has been mentioned quite frequently. Specifically, heavy attention has been drawn to the use of Facebook and Twitter in regards to their role in the crisis in Egypt, and now Libya. Protestors and activists used both of these social mediums to stage gatherings, and many believe they were the tools of success. However one thing that is not mentioned is the fact that one key element of society must be in place for any social medium to successfully operate: freedom of speech.
In a March 24th article in PC World magazine, co-founder of Twitter, Biz Stone, discusses the company’s role in the recent uprisings, as well as its possible relationship with the China. When asked about such relationship between the, Mr. Stone replied by stating:
“Our philosophy is that open exchange of information can have a positive global impact, and that’s not China’s philosophy.”
Regardless however, Mr. Stone did say that the company was searching for new ways of becoming an effective company within China. With over 100 million users, Twitter is growing on a daily basis.
So how are all these things intertwined? I really think that within the next two years, freedom of speech rights will become a more pressing issue within China. The recent demonstrations in Egypt and Libya show the discontent of massive amounts of people with their governments and their ability to use social mediums to address their concerns. In China, I noted the Jasmine Revolution in support of democracy. It was immediately stifled. It showed however that some Chinese people are dissatisfied with their lack of freedom, and I am curious as to what will be done in response. Since Twitter does not exist, and practically all other social mediums are censored to the upmost degree, how will meaningful gatherings and protests be able to occur? I can’t say from experience, but I can imagine organizing such things require an immense amount of effort and carefulness. This is why Twitter is so valuable for such circumstances; it is simple and effective in that it reaches tremendous numbers of people.
I’m not claiming that massive unrest will hit China soon, but in the event that people do decide to make a change, how will the word be spread?