Technology and social media grow more and more popular each and every day. With the link between the two, technology is becoming more advanced every single day, further allowing us to use social media in different ways. Social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, were designed one goal in mind in particular, that was to connect people with friends and family from all over the world. Lately, people are using these platforms for a lot more than keeping in touch with their friend in another country.
A bad mix has been happening, a mix of social media, and politics. People have been using social media platforms almost as a weapon, using there texts and characters as ammunition. A great definition of this is civil disobedience, which is the act of refusing the law. To give you a great picture of an act of civil disobedience, imagine a non-violent government protest.
The act of civil disobedience has had footprints throughout history. A great example of civil disobedience and disagreeing with what is “correct” is Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “Martin Luther King, Jr. became the predominant leader in the Civil Rights Movement to end racial segregation and discrimination in America during the 1950s and 1960s and a leading spokesperson for nonviolent methods of achieving social change.” (Historynet) He single handedly rose above the crowd during the civil rights movement, and fought back against segregation and racism to alter the course of history.
In the 50’s and 60’s, MLK used his voice of reason to create a movement, now, people simply have to click a button to send a simple message that will create a movement. Social media is the forefront of civil disobedience today. When there is a protest, groups simply send out a single message to their followers about where the protest will be and when. The first time we really saw these large social media movements and groups, was after the 2008 presidential election, with the creation of the Tea Party. The Tea Party is a movement composed of national and local groups who agree on their own political beliefs and have protests and rallies nationwide. Social media has been used by the Tea Party to organize events and protests, as well as create fan pages for members to stay up to date.
In recent years, we have seen a great example of civil disobedience by way of social media. In early 2010, an Egyptian man Khaled Mohamed Said was beaten to death by Egyptian security forces. Afterwards, no consequences or attention whatsoever were brought upon the police involved. Then along came a 30 year old Google executive named Wael Ghonim. Ghonim became enraged that nothing was being done of this incident, and many other incidents that were being overlooked by the government.
So, Ghonim decided to take matters into his own hands and created a Facebook page called “We Are All Khaled Said”:
“It featured horrific photos, shot with a cellphone in the morgue, of Said’s face. That visual evidence undermined the official explanations for his death. The Facebook page attracted some 500,000 members. After 30 years of emergency rule, abuses by police and state security officials are so common that the case was a ready rallying point for a diverse network of outraged Egyptians.
Having attracted this large following, Mr. Ghonim and others used the Facebook page to track other accounts of police abuses. This focused attention on wrongful arrests, torture in detention and corrupt government. And then Facebook was used as a technical means to plan and organize protests.” (Wallstreetjournal)
At one point, the Egyptian government cut off the internet access, not allowing people to communicate plans through the Facebook page. Following his creation of the Facebook page, came his Twitter page, after he was arrested and released after 12 days of questioning.
Ghonim’s actions led to a violent protest that was the people against the government, which eventually led to the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak. Even today in Egypt, there is a fight against the government and their democratic strangle hold.
As social media and technology progress, so will the ability to communicate. Civil disobedience through social media will continue to take place, but hopefully for a good reason or cause.The day social media is used to promote a violent protest or act of violent civil disobedience, will be the day that someone will really have to take action on monitoring social media platforms.