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Social Media and Informed Population

Updated on March 27, 2019
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Khurram Shehzad is an educationist and writer. He writes on social issues and education.

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Are You Informed?

Social Media, at present, is major source of information for people belonging to all walks of life regardless of geographical differences. It is social media that actually has changed the world into a global village. People are more informed than ever in the era of social media. As people are interacting with each other in variety of ways through social media, the information shared on the platform is also panoramic. People are sharing information on the social media because it allows them to express themselves. An informed population is more active in using their right of freedom of speech. In liberal societies, such as United Kingdom and Germany, freedom of expression on social media is, by large, helping in creation of aware and socially conscious population. On the other hand, in an authoritarian country like Cuba and Syria, liberal social media is considered a threat to the norms of society.

Social Media Shaping Minds

Social media is playing vital role in shaping public opinion and through a successful social media campaign it can be manipulated in desired direction. In the same way, the information spread or shared on social media is above authenticity. There is no parameter available to ensure the accuracy and authenticity of information shown in multiple kinds of expression and shared on social media. Forged images, texts, and graphically redesigned visual messages can be extremely misleading. Trans-cultural influences are also spreading round the glob through social media interactions. These influences are rapidly shaping people’s minds in many ways. Starting from fashion trends to the choice of favourite drink is happening under the influence of trans-cultural impacts and intense marketing campaigns through social media platforms. It is obvious that in a very short time, since its inception, social media has taken all possible realms of daily life in its folds. It has not only brought a revolution in the modern modes of communication but also has radically changed the social behaviours of the societies globally.

Social Media Has Acquired a Place of Breathing Space in Repressive Societies

There is a unique aspect of this novel mode of communication that globally and trans-culturally people are interacting with each other without involvement of a third person in any form. Yascha Mounk says that facts and ideas are being shared person to person on social media, and then they are communicated with millions of people globally at the same time with a single click. He further explains this man to man data and facts sharing also playing its role in shaping beliefs and concerns of the people. On the other hand, Niam Yaraghi, an assistant professor of Operations and Information Management at University of Connecticut's School of Business, opines that such freedom of expression that social media is offering communities all over the world receive different reaction from the government in an authoritarian state like Cuba and Syria. In such states inestimable freedom of expression is reflected a taboo. Social setup of authoritarian states does not easily accept freedom of expression. But it was past. Now, in a very short span of time, social media has changed the scenario. Even authoritarian states are showing acceptance of the right of people in terms of freedom of speech and social media has acquired a place of a breathing space in such societies.

Freedom of Speech in Liberal States

Liberal states like United Kingdom and Germany offer a different handling to the right of freedom of speech of the public. The right of freedom of speech and expression regardless of religion, creed and race is protected by the constitution itself in these countries. In liberal states, the public is allowed, even to criticize the government policies and stances openly and repeatedly. Freedom and liberty are the core values of the society and everyone respects these values as the basic right of an individual. Social media as a tool of expression is accepted as a source of freedom in such societies. On the contrary, a repressive state seems to be afraid of the global spread of social media. Such states are afraid because the governments consider the freedom of speech and expression a threat to their dominance and authority. In this way, globally, two opposite behaviours are present for the spread of internet and then social media platforms. Social media, as a platform for free expression, is widely spreading, regardless of its acceptance in a particular system of government.

Social Media and Social Behaviours

Social media platforms have played their role in shaping a new global society which is more informed and sensible in terms of social behaviours. As regards repressive societies, social media also has brought a significant change in the mindset of the public. People are now aware of their rights in a better way. The governments of such countries have started to accept the presence of social media. Social media is changing the societies round the globe and repressive regimes are not an exception.

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