Do social media enable or hinder political movements?


This is an important question given the increased and evolving uses of social media in political developments around the world. These include the fomenting and reporting on unrest during the Arab Spring, continuing demands by bloggers for human rights in China and the ongoing demonization of minorities in Myanmar by the Buddhist majority.

Image result for photos of arab spring protests

Egypt 2011 (UIUC Library Guides)

We might also ask whether social media are inherently democratizing or whether they serve the interests of state organizations, dictatorships and intelligence agencies?  Or do they boost politicians in liberal democracies who feed off conspiracy and nativism?

Image result for photo of trump

Presidential Assent  (The Blaze)


A simple answer or sitting on the fence

These questions have sparked considerable debate and almost everyone has an opinion.  Image result for photo of debateThe truth is probably that there is credible evidence on both sides of the debate on the effect of social media on political movements and the answer will only be determined by assessing different cases and examining the circumstances. We might conclude that while social media can enable alternative ways of doing things, they may also reinforce pre-existing norms, values and institutions.

Why should we care?

Image result for image of bot

These issues are of immediate interest to many of us.

Firstly, as citizens of Canada, what impact might social media have on the 2019 general election?  Should we be devising  and enforcing various regulations related to the use of bots, for example, as they might be used to automatically post inflammatory or nonsensical posts, disrupting political discourse while promoting populist views?

As global citizens, examination of these issues provides a very helpful window through which to interpret developments and reach conclusions.  How much was Donald Trump able to influence the outcome of the last federal election by constantly framing the debate, then reinforcing opinions by his constant references to “crooked Hillary” and “fake news” in the social media?

As travellers to out-of-the-way destinations, referral to social media posts would help to determine whether to visit or depart from a country undergoing social/political unrest.  This is potentially a very useful application as Global Affairs Canada Travel Advisories are often so alarmist that travellers would be reluctant to leave home at all!

Kidnapping, extortion, home invasion, robbery, sexual assault and other forms of aggravated assault are carried out by criminals acting individually or as a group. Assault, armed robbery and carjacking are serious problems … A large percentage of the population … is armed…  Guns and other weapons, such as machetes and knives, are frequently used. If you are threatened by robbers, do not resist; injuries and deaths have occurred when victims have resisted. (2017)

Finally, those of us who work as volunteers in developing countries, assisting non-profit organizations seeking funding, a balanced assessment of differing perspectives on the security and political realities would help us (and, ultimately, potential donors) determine whether conditions in a specified country are conductive to delivering aid at all.

Image result for development assistance photo

Canada’s New Feminist Development Assistance Policy in Action (Macleans)

A call to action!

What do you think?  Should we be concerned about the role of social media in influencing international developments?  Are they forces for good or bad?  Do social media cause division or amplify it?  Depending on your answer to these questions, give some thought as to what each of us can do to help remedy some of the misuses of social media. Get in touch!

Twitter:  Impact of social media on political movements

Facebook:  Does social media enable political movements or hinder their formation?  Why it matters to you!

The President’s Tweets: 140 characters vs the Truth 

Donald Trump, the President of the United States, loves to tweet. He manages to do what few can with just 140 characters. With a few amount of words, Trump can completely eviscerate a political opponent or spark division of an entire nation.

President Trump’s personal Twitter account has over 41 million followers and he has 36.2 thousand tweets.

Twitter has been the President’s preferred method of addressing the public since he took office.

The President is infamous for using Twitter to throw attacks at political opponents, media outlets and journalists.  He even uses twitter to publicly shame and insult anyone who disagrees with his administration.

Before he was even inaugurated, Trump  called any news anchor and/or station that questioned or made negative statement “Fake News”. President Trump still believes that numerous news stations, including CBS, ABC, NBC and CNN, are purposely sprouting lies about him and are trying to undermine his administration.


Though many of Trump’s claims on and off Twitter have been proven false, he continues tweeting regardless. President Trump knows that if he stands by his statements and discrediting the most vocal of his opposition will keep his base followers on his side.

President Trump’s style has always been to be the loudest. From celebrity feuds to his many political ones, Trump seems to believe that the loudest person is always right. In his ( and his constituents’) eyes, he can do no wrong.

Should people in powerful positions, such as President of the U.S, use social media for addressing negative press?

I think there should be a line for how much people in major positions can tweet. Argueing with companies, journalists, ect is not appropriate on such a public forum as Twitter.

He is truly a puppet master when it comes to how he uses Twitter. No other president has used social media the way he does.  He manages to rally and incite his supporters to his causes.  The President inspires a scary amount of support dispite the numerous lies found in his statements and his unpresidential behaviour.

Will President Trump continue to baffle his opposition and continue to flourish in his postion?
I think so, but I think the real anwser to this remains to be seen.