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Can Facebook, Twitter and Youtube change the world?

(Anatomy of social media-driven o ular rotest movements!


A review of -The "merging #ole of $ocial %edia in &olitical and #egime Change 'y #ita $afranek ( available at) htt )((www*csa*com(discoveryguides(social+media(review* df

Popular and social media-driven protests around the globe The ca tioned article by #ita $afranek resents a fairly com rehensive analysis of the role of social media in the rotest henomenon e,hibited across the globe from -../ onwards* 0n itself, the rotest henomenon embraces various o ular and emotional issues ranging from the demands for social reforms, sheer rage against ca italist greed and bureaucratic corru tion, condemnation of austerity measures taken by various governments on e, enditures for social services and the demand for olitical inclusion in erstwhile autocratic states* 0n tracing the historical tra1ectory of the henomenon, $afranek cites the -..2 massive rotests in the &hili ines against then &resident 3ose h "strada which eventually led to his downfall4 the olitical revolution in %oldova4 the ro-human rights rotests in 0ran in -../4 and the much recent civil strife in "gy t, Tunisia, Yemen, 5ebanon, together with the still raging eo le6s u rising in $yria* They have been collectively billed as the Arab $ ring #evolutions* #afranek similarly mentions the colossal string of demonstrations in the "uro ean continent, s ecifically in 0taly, France and 7reece* 0n 5atin America, citi8ens in 'ra8il, Argentina, Chile and 'olivia have likewise e,hibited s oradic yet, mammoth and delirious radical actions within the backdro of escalating economic misery under the ca italist global order* At the heart of global ca italism itself, in France and the 9$:the much talked ;<ccu y %ovement= has recently been observed to be on a sustaining mode as discontent among o ulation fuels the intensification of o ular and wides read eo le6s actions against ca italist greed* %ore recently, and in the wake of the e, ose against the massive racketeering and bureaucratic corru tion, the &hili ines has dis layed its own share of social media-driven rotests under the banner of the ;%illion &eo le6s %arch=* 5eaderless and organi8ed by lain citi8ens, the rotests are continuing and attracting eo le by their thousands, who are venting their anger on unbridled government corru tion at the face of staggering overty ratio within o ulace*

The big three: erasing time and space as well as inherent barriers to peoples unity $afranek singles out Facebook, Twitter and Youtube as the big three (>! social media odiums which have the most rofound influence in giving birth to the internet-driven global rotest henomenon * The author attributes to the design of these social networking sites which affords connectivity, real time communication and multimedia e, ressions through sharing of te,ts (o inions and feelings!, videos and hotos* 9nder the universal internet latform, these social media tools are able to transgress the boundaries of time and s ace in asynchronous ty e of communication* $ocial media likewise have tres assed intrinsic cultural and social barriers like the ban for social and olitical gatherings and formations of olitical arties in Arab countries4 the e, ression of outrage against their leaders4 as well as some legal restrictions on libel and slander during radical collective demonstrations* "ven the ?uestion of ;decency= and other un ronounced ;cultural rules= in societies have been effectively tram led u on by social media, according to the author* Anybody may sim ly s ew out an ire on their leaders to stir-u agitations, cou led with a call for dramatic mass actions* @ith the ower to ;virali8e= te,ts, ictures, videos and micro blogs: Facebook, Twitter and Youtube, according to $afranek- have effectively erased time and s ace boundaries as well the inbuilt social and cultural barriers to unity and concerted actions* $he attributes these barriers to religious, ethnical, sychological and even olitical and ideological differences, among individuals, segments in a s ecific societies and even within various societies across continental divides* Accordingly, unity and concerted actions can now easily be forged for a common goal because of social media* Aeedless to say, as the o ulation in a country gains more and more access to ertinent information and as the avenues of communication e?ually widen u through social media, such o ulation tends to become com le, and artici atory* %ore and more eo le are engaged in ublic s eeches and discourses* Bence, common unity oints and wides read actions, according to the author, are easily cemented in the midst of emotional issues confronting the o ulace, societies and the world over* The author ?uotes $unnae 5ohmann who em hasi8es, ; In time of social turbulence, we observe cascades of collective actions: people speak their mind in public, undertake acts of civil disobedience, attend demonstrations, and participate in violent riots. Occasionally, a social movement gains momentum and overturns the status quo. 0ndeed, the big three (>!, Facebook, Twitter and Youtube which may have been conceived by their creators sim ly for entertainment and networking ur oses, have now clinched their role as olitical tools eo les6 greater ersonal authoring and

for dissent and rotest, even as on the other side of the coin, they have also been ma,imi8ed for ca italist roducts6 commercial romotions* Common characteristics of the social media-driven protests 0n her analysis of the rotest movements which unfolded via the social media, $afranek identifies, among others, their common characteristics, as) 2* they are o ular of course4 are based on trendy issues and demands4 -* they are s ontaneous4 >* they are leaderless4 C* they are anti-ine?uities, anti-im unity and anti- authoritarianism, and4 D* they are essentially reformist4 non-revolutionary, but not necessarily non-violent in nature* These characteristics, if one has to inter ose and analy8e them from the view oint of e,isting social, cultural and legal ethos and norms, would a ear that the foundation by which these rotest actions are coming from, are of ethical concerns* <n the global scale, the ;<ccu y %ovement= is motivated rinci ally by eo le6s hatred against the unrestrained cor orate greed of the 2E rich, com ared to the //E oor* The flaunting of filth and stolen money by the Aa oles family, for instance, has moved eo le to launch street rotests in the &hili ines4 so as the cuts in budget for social services in most "uro ean countries within the backdro of dis layed affluence by the rich and famous, catching the ire of the "uro eans and bringing them to radical actions in the streets* 0n Arab nations, the absence of democratic elections, debate and aralysis of olitical dialogue as well as the un o ular rule of few families have likewise fueled rotests and even civil wars, triggered by social media* %ost of the rotest movements6 motivations are founded, therefore, on an ethical concern which is rinci ally well within the ambit of e?uality and accountability* $uch dynamics is focused at the desire of leveling off the laying field of o democratic ideology* Frawing basis from an ethical vantage oint, the rotest movements according to the author, tend to be massive, attracting various schools of thoughts, affiliations, various olitical and religious colors- and in the rocess, ameliorating artici atory roles to everybody without distinctions and affinities* ortunities, which in essence is also the core value of the liberal

$uch luralistic, leaderless and non- rogrammatic movements are similarly directionless* They a ear to be a social criticism of sort, or worst, a sim le venting of ire on the ruling arty, system and or s ecific deeds by certain individual leaders* The tra1ectory of the rotests therefore is somewhat roblematic as e,hibited by the ?uestions: where is it heeding to? Are there alternatives? Are there rograms to ursue? @hat6s ne,t, and what is to be done? Criticisms: spontaneity of the masses 0n her critical analysis, the author likewise resents critics of social media6s new role as a driver of olitical and social change* hile techno!utopians overstate the affordances of new technologies "what these technologies can give us# and understate the material conditions of their use "e.g., how factors such as gender or economics can affect access#, technology!utopians do the reverse, misinterpreting a lack of results with the impotence of technology$ and also, forgetting how shifts within the realm of mediated political communication can be incremental rather than a seismic in nature, the author ?uotes Christian Christensen in ;Fiscourses of Technology and 5iberation) $tate Aid to Aet Activists in an "ra of GTwitter #evolutions* %alcolm 7ladwell is cited by the author who em hasi8es, the platforms of social media are built around weak ties. %ocial networks are effective at increasing participation by lessening the level of motivation that participation requires. $aferanek says 7ladwell argues that these ty es of relationshi s are not conducive to the sustained, hierarchical, and high-risk behaviors needed to make real social change as seen in the 9$ civil rights movement in the 2/H.s. &acebook and 'witter have their place in social change, but real revolutions take place in the street. One of the biggest obstacles in using social media for political change is that people need close personal connections in order to get them to take action ( especially if that action is risky and difficult. %ocial media always comes with a catch: It is designed to do the very thing that isn)t particularly helpful in a high!risk situation , the author ado ts lines in Tina #osenberg6s ;Friends and #evolution*= Template for revolution: Marx, enin and Mao "ven as the author observes that the common unity factor in social media-driven rotest actions is of ethical nature, it would a ear the ever the desire to cut-off the widening ine?uity between the rich and the oor within the ca italist system is one rime motivation of every rotest rally* The basis of ine?uity in ca italist system has been thoroughly and scientifically studied and shown by Iarl %ar, through his voluminous works* %ar, redicted that ca italism as an economic and social system is bound to colla se, sooner or later and that the rise of socialism is inevitable*

$uch is the law of ca italist develo ment* The burgeoning, and ever increasing rofit from ca italist roduction will soon s awn the crisis of over roduction and the massive concentration of ca ital and resources on a few su errich ca italist class* To %ar,, over roduction shall serve as the digger of ca italist class6 own graves* This crisis will eventually give way to massive overty among nations and the subse?uent rising u in revolutions of the workingmen* 0n u holding %ar,, Jladimir 5enin has shown through his works that ca italism may not fall immediately as ca italist countries6 sur lus of ca ital and roduction can still be e, orted to the Third @orld* $uch can absorb sur lus roducts and sur lus ca ital* Thus, he coined 0m erialism as a global system wherein countries are divided between the ultra rich few and the eri hery neo-colonial states which serve as the new frontiers for dum ing of sur lus goods and abundant sources of both chea labor and raw materials* This shall considerably delay the inherent crisis and the unavoidable disintegration of ca italism, accordingly* 5enin, more im ortantly, advanced and in fact racticed his own thesis that building socialism in one country is feasible as demonstrated by his own successful socialist ro1ect founded in the socialist #ussia in 2/2K* To him, the eo le6s struggle for reforms should be a olitical struggle against the ca italist class and hence the workingmen must build their own olitical arty and raise-u construction* The greatest contribution of 5enin, robably, is his recognition of the state as a violent coercive ose the rofessional revolutionaries, armed necessarily, who shall draw-in rograms, agitate and lead the masses for socialist revolution and

machinery with its retinue of army, olice, rison facilities and courts: threatening those who o state with armed revolution*

ruling class with violence* Thus, to fight for reforms and e?uity, ro onents must confront the violent

%ao Ledong of China has gras ed %ar, and 5enin6s theses and advanced the socialist revolution in a neo-colonial, re-industrial and agrarian country* %ao has led close to a billion eo le in to ling the ca italist class and its local u $econd @orld @ar* !thos of democracy and ethics of revolution: uxemburg and Trots"y @hilst they are both %ar,ists in their own rights, #osa 5u,emburg and 5eon Trotsky have aused dissenting o inions against 5enin and %ao6s model of building socialism* They have critici8ed the formation of a single arty system in socialism which is the kernel of what 5enin called the ;dictatorshi of the roletariat= over the ca italist class* There are still residues and influences of the ca italism during et regime in China, towards the building socialism in the aftermath of the

socialism and the treat for counter-revolution can be real* A vanguard arty of revolutionaries is needed, argued 5enin* To the current followers of 5u,emburg and Trotsky, however, the collective e, erience in #ussia, China, Jietnam, Cambodia and other socialist countries, s ecially those which formerly belong to the "astern "uro ean bloc which had followed 5enin and %ao6s model- shows how socialism has fallen victim to undemocratic and authoritarian brand of socialism* $uch is necessarily o democratic socialism as envisioned %ar,, according to the two* Followers of 5u,emburg and Trotsky abound in various countries and are advancing what they call as democratic socialism, both as an ideology and a rogram of action as o re?uirement in socialist nation-building* Popular social media tools- diggers of capitalists grave# $ocial media has been designed for rofit by the ca italists themselves and are atently non- artisan and non- olitical* They have been engineered basically for sociali8ation and communication, using the internet latform which have been ma,imi8ed for cor orate advertising and informercials cam aigns* As the crisis of ca italism dee ens, however, the social media have been unwittingly dragged on as a tool for rotest, dissent and even revolutions as shown by the Arab e, erience* They have become laying field of free s eech, agitation and dissent* The reviously instrumental in leveling off the osed to 5enin, $talin and %ao6s dictatorshi of the roletariat which has been identified by the mainstream socialist movement as the core osed to the liberating and

ca italist mani ulated traditional tools of rint, television and broadcast media have now been made available to almost everybody* Commentators and o inion makers who reviously wielded tremendous ower over the o ulace have suddenly found themselves with diminished influence, as everybody can now ost comments, outline o inions, e, ress dissent and even advance revolutions through the social media latforms* The rofound influence of social media has e,tended to the olitical s here* They have been wisely used by the advocates and ro onents of change* The global olitical rotest movement henomenon shows the effectiveness of social media in harnessing national and even global unity for ractical and concerted radical actions* Bowever, can the rotest movements and agitations for change triggered by social media be sustained, and in the rocess, serve as a recursor for genuine social change?

The answer is an obvious no* First, the movements are leaderless* $econd, the movements are nonrogrammatic* They have no outlined alternative system from ca italism or to issues being rotested against* Third, they cannot be sustained as they are non- olitical and without an armed com onent* The state may confront the movements anytime and threaten artici ants with incarceration and hysical violence* 9nder duress, any movement may sim ly dissi ate in the air* 'ut what about the successful changes in the social media driven revolutions in the Arab world? $ociologists argue that what has ha ened in the %iddle "ast were half-baked changes, as only the ersonalities of the old regimes were ousted, while the same ruling class remains in ower* 0n a word, only the re resentatives of the ruling class were changed, yet the same ruling class remains in ower* This is similar to the &hili ine e, erience under "F$A 2 and -* 'oth %arcos and "strada were booted

out from ower in 2/MH and 2//M, res ectively* Yet, the same ruling class of landlords and com radors continually holds the reigns of ower through their clans6 re resentatives in congress, the e,ecutive branch and the 1udiciary* 0n sum, changing the society or the world over can hardly be determined by social media alone* A rogrammatic movement and an ins iring leadershi are fundamental ingredients for a successful movement which can engineer and sustain the rogram and dynamics for genuine social change* $ocial media can be a tool for change, even as they can similarly be a tool for counter-change as well* The adherents of these rotest movements must read and review %ar,, 5enin, $talin, %ao, 5u,emburg, Trotsky and many more to understand the re?uirements, dynamics and inertia of a movement which seeks genuine change* After all, they already have demonstrated how to successfully do it* $ibliography: Favid, #* (-.2>, $e tember 2M!* Inquirer Opinion* #etrieved <ctober 2-, -.2>, from The &hili ine Faily 0n?uirer) htt )((o inion*in?uirer*net(H2C>>( rotest-in-the-time-of-social-media Cielo, C* (-.2>, <ctober!* *overing +ctivism and ,olitics in -atin +merica* #etrieved <ctober 2-, -.2>, from The Year in #evolts) A $outh American &ers ective of the Arab $ ring) htt )((u sidedownworld*org(main(international-archives-H.(>-DK-the-year-in-revolts-a-south-americaners ective-of-the-arab-s ring Tufekci, L* (-.2-, Fecember!* 'echnology, our tools, ourselves* #etrieved <ctober 2., -.2>, from 0s there a $ocial-%edia Fueled &rotest $tyle? An Analysis ) htt )((technosociology*org(? N2-DD

5ubin, 3* (-.2-, $e tember 2D!* 'he .rban &ringe* #etrieved <ctober 2., -.2>, from The G<ccu y6 %ovement) "merging &rotest Forms and Contested 9rban $ aces) htt )((ced*berkeley*edu(b 1(-.2-(./(the-occu y-movement-emerging- rotest-forms-and-contested-urbans aces( 'arcelona, %* (-.2>, $e tember 2>!* 'he ,hippine *ollegian* #etrieved <ctober 2>, -.2>, from Tem late for #evolution) &robing the roots and ros ects of rotests around the globe) htt )((www* hili inecollegian*org(tem late-for-revolution- robing-the-roots-and- ros ects-of- rotestsaround-the-globe(