Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
Social Networking Goes Viral
By Paul Balles
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, March 19, 2012
If social networking can get a president elected, facilitate
revolutions, help or hinder political dialog and arouse global support for
millions of abused children, it’s a media with a spectacular message.
The election of Barack Obama ushered in the use of
political networking that hadn't been seen before.
message failed to register in the minds of the Republican candidates now
vying for votes as nominees. Instead of recognizing the potential that the
Obama campaign exploited, Republican contenders have been raising huge
capital contributions to support traditional speaking engagements and TV
Even more amazing has been the recognition by the youth in both
the Arab spring and in the American Occupy campaigns to use the Obama
If, as Marshall McLuhan believed, "The media is the
message", it becomes imperative to fully understand networking as media with
a message, especially when it comes to politics in large numbers.
a recent poll, Pew Internet & American Life Project found that only a
quarter of social network users always or mostly agree with their friends'
The majority, 73 percent, agrees with friends'
posts "only sometimes". When they do differ in opinion, 66 percent usually
ignore the offending post. Just over a quarter (28 percent) respond with
their own posts, and 5 percent said they might respond depending on the
One study of the Pew report made it clear that
"Social media users unfriend those with contrary political opinions." The
message in that is the well worn social advice: if you want to keep your
friends, don't discuss politics.
According to Howard Kurtz, The
Daily Beast and Newsweek’s Washington bureau chief, "when you’re living
online, politics apparently gets in the way of friendship, just like when
you’re hosting a dinner party."
Ten percent of social network users
have blocked, unfriended, or hidden someone because that person posted too
frequently about political subjects, and nine percent have blocked someone
because they posted something about politics or issues that they disagreed
with or found offensive.
Kurz found that the large majority of
people simply ignored posts they disagree with; and "38 percent say they
were surprised to learn that the political leanings of others were different
than they imagined."
Another of Kurz's interesting findings
was that "16 percent have followed or friended someone because that person
shared the user’s political views."
The latest and most remarkable
use of networking is the video by Invisible Children, the non-profit group
that produced a hugely popular half-hour documentary about the notorious
African warlord Joseph Kony.
“KONY 2012" video had been viewed
more than 75 million times on YouTube by late Monday (March 13).
Invisible Children says it wants to make Kony a household name and drum up
global support to end the murders, rapes, abuses and abductions committed by
the Lord’s Resistance Army in central Africa.
skyrocketed to popularity on YouTube, propelled by thousands of posts on
Twitter and Facebook, according to a CNN Wire.
Reported by Al
Jazeera, "the charity is being criticised for its style of campaigning on
the issue and the film has triggered a vigorous online debate about the
An editorial in Haaretz noted that “It is the
first call for concrete action against an injustice being perpetrated
overseas that has gone viral, sent out to tens of millions of people by tens
of millions of other people. It has stretched the boundaries of the public
and political dialogue, which is usually restricted to events within each
The editor warned that “Israel should take note
of ‘Kony 2012.’ It would not be far-fetched to assume that a similar film
will be made about the Palestinian conflict. And once the heartrending
images of bleeding children are seared into the consciousness of tens of
millions of people, it's doubtful that even 46 pauses for applause in Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to AIPAC will be able to erase the
Social networking accommodates a huge number of
participants, with Facebook and twitter taking the lead. The interactive
nature of the medium provides a platform for word of mouth advertising and
A social networking site is also a place where a user can
create a profile and build a personal network that connects him or her to
others. One writer called social networking "the logical extension of our
human tendencies toward togetherness."
If social networking can get
a president elected, facilitate revolutions, help or hinder political dialog
and arouse global support for millions of abused children, it’s a media with
a spectacular message.