Week 5: Digital Media and Emerging Technologies

Usually on the topic of Africa, the media and technology are not generally discussed but only recently has the issue of social media been bought up within many world conflicts. These weeks’ articles investigate online feedback through media outlets such as Twitter. The article twittering the Boko Haram Uprising in Nigeria, looks at activities of Boko Haram, and a terrorist group in Nigeria while Muslims and non-Muslims as they express varied feelings and opinions mostly condemning the activities of the terrorist sector.  From Iran to Tunisia and Egypt and beyond, Twitter and Facebook are the power tools of civic upheaval – but social media is only one factor in the spread of democratic revolution. In the podcast ‘Mass Media and Democracy’ the rise of technology in Africa recently is discussed. It was very fascinating to learn that the rise of media actually contributes significantly to democracy. The access to technology is allowing citizens of Africa to express their feelings in a very diplomatic and protected way. The freedom of expression is encouraged at a local level. Personally, I find social media to be a very liberating thing for the citizens of Africa as well as the rest of the world. It is something that has allowed the world to be connected on many different levels and enables rapid formation of networks and ideas are shared.

Previously with Arab spring, social media proved to be something that can facilitate rebellion and even topple regimes.  The effect of social media specifically the global reaction to Libya would not have been so fast and would have been very much delayed. Two years ago, Iranian pro-democracy activists protested against the re-election of the Iranian President, as the world watched its Twitter feeds. In a country with so few foreign journalists on the ground, and where information was so tightly managed, the Green Revolution was quickly dubbed, “The Twitter Revolution.” It was not until recently the online media outlets were used so vicariously. In reference to the Boko Haram, the tweets allowed citizens to express emotions through informal means of communication. Whether it is similar to Arab spring where the social media was used mainly to report the events taking place or Boko Haram where citizens were given the opportunity to express their emotions in times of stress, the media has helped significantly. Though, times such as the Kony movement which was one of the biggest social movements experiment, the movement was criticized for oversimplifying the events in the region and providing misleading information. Despite the problems with the movement, it still allowed the world to become more aware of the issues and brought this to many people’s attention.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Can social media help contribute to building a new government?
  2. The people who use social media have deep social divisions and with the constant changing of social media access, could this ever produce a significant social divide between the worlds

J. Flood 110271250


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