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Social Media Is Good for Democracy: A Debate

In Chapter 2, a discussion of how social media influences the political and business environments in countries seeking to transition into democracies (without the blessing of the government) are discussed.  The text discusses the ability of social media to influence world events—ongoing conflict in Syria, which arose in the wake of the “Arab Spring” that spread across Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya in the early 2010s.  Unlike previous revolutions, which lacked any widespread, immediate communication tools, the Arab spring protestors were equipped with smartphones and social media.  Twitter and Facebook morphed from informal, friendly networking sites to powerful weapons.  Groups used Facebook to announce events, garner online support, and encourage people to participate.  Attempts to block social media backfired and increased the number of protestors.  In addition, protestors became journalists to the international community, with no lag time in broadcasting the news.  As a result, governments such as the United States were pressured to take a stand and to lend assistance.

During the Syrian civil war, social media, used as a visual medium, led the global community to unite behind the plight of the Syrian refugees in an unprecedented way.  The role of social media as an organizing tool, a journalistic tool, and a support-building tool, all in the context of political change, underscores the interesting interactions of technological progress and political conflict and change.

Do you think social media is good for democracy? 

Things to Consider 

  • Critically analyze both sides of the argument being presented in the Film On Demand and support your conclusions.
  • Consider the implications, either positive or negative, of strategies to use social media to the advantage of international markets in unstable political environments.

Rubric Guidelines

Possible Points

I. Concise and well written summary of the video 0-20

II. Key points, reported facts, take-aways 0-20

III. Use of critical thinking and incorporation of course related material 0-40

IV. Your personal observation/opinion/related event 0-10

V. 350 words (or a little more) 0-10