The last decade showed how social media could topple governments and make social change — and it’s only getting crazier from here (FB, TWTR, GOOG)

Yemeni Arab Spring protesters 2011

The Arab Spring kicked off a decade in which technology and social media would play a key role in powering social movements and bringing about lasting change.
Facebook and Twitter would help topple strongmen leaders in the Middle East, broadcast issues like election fraud in Russia, and bring issues like police brutality, racism and sexual harassmentto the forefront of national conversation.
But it also spun out of control in the 2010s. Facebook and Twitter were used to broadcast propaganda, distribute misinformation, inspire deadly campaigns through hate speech, and disrupt elections.
Social media may continue to be a key part of our lives, but its users must wrestle with a host of problems in the new decade, like misinformation and government surveillance.
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Few people at the beginning of the last decade had any idea what a powerful political machine platforms like Facebook and Twitter would shape up to be — including, it often seems, Facebook’s own CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

The 2010s were the decade that online activism “went mainstream,” said Athina Karatzogianni, a media and communications professor at the University of Leicester.

For one thing, the speed at which information was able to spread “allowed protest networks and other resistant movements to have spectacular spillover effects,” Karatzogianni said. Its effects “were obvious with WikiLeaks, the Arab Spring uprisings, the Occupy movement, and anti-austerity movements in Europe, Turkey, Brazil. In Nigeria, India, and other hotspots, online feminist movements exploded.”

Over the past decade, hashtags like #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo blossomed into full-blown movements in their own right, starting national conversations on the accountability of the powerful.

At the same time, a darker edge has emerged: Russia has been blamed for using misinformation on social media to influence the 2016 American presidential election, even as the social networks have been abused by militants and terrorist groups like ISIS and used to spur lethal vigilante attacks in India.

Now, the ongoing protests in Hong Kong, Chile, and elsewhere show that social media’s promise as a lever for change isn’t going anywhere — but that there are still many challenges to be faced as the world adjusts to the potential for the technology to enable real harm.

Here’s a look at how social media shaped our society over the past decade, and how it laid the groundwork for how we face the perils of the decade to come:The power of social media became clear in December 2010, as Tunisian protesters used it to topple the 23-year-long regime of a strongman leader. As Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Syria followed suit, it looked like the foundation for lasting political change.

The Arab Spring, sometimes dubbed the Facebook revolution or Twitter revolution, shook regimes across the Arab world. But it started simply, with an argument between a police officer and a Tunisian street vendor over a fruit and vegetable cart.

His self-immolation struck a nerve in Tunisia, provoking weeks of …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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