It wasn’t that long ago that protesters relied on handing on fliers or announcements in political newspapers to get the word out about their causes. Today, of course, nearly every political cause has a Facebook page or a Twitter account so its organizers can constantly update the social media sphere about bills, rallies and demonstrations. As obnoxious as social media activism can be at times, you can’t question how powerful and effective the platform can be. Consider Syria for a moment.
Over the weekend, thousands of university students and outraged citizens marched throughout the country. From Damascus to Aleppo, Syrians organized a three-day event that prompted harsh political response resulting in the injuries of dozens of participants. At the center of this nationwide protest is Facebook. The Syrian Revolution 2011 page, along with dozens of others, has been used to keep the world updated on a revolution brewing in a small country going through big changes. Syria banned Facebook and YouTube in 2007, but the ban was lifted earlier this year. Since that time, activists have ignited social media to get organized while gaining global support. The page currently has more than 178,000 likes and is constantly updated to reflect the country’s ever-changing political climate. As the United States and Europe get ready to respond with more sanctions and force, the role of social media in a revolution can’t be minimized. For many, Facebook serves as link to the outside world. For better or for worse, the era of social media activism and campaigns has only just begun. Much like we saw in Egypt earlier this year, we can expect Facebook and Twitter to keep the world in tune with a revolution we previously may not have ever heard about.
The message is clear — whether you’re a country in need of change or a business in need of customers, social media is the answer. But my question is this, dear readers: Can social media and social media marketing bring about change and awareness, or are we just polluting the cybersphere with more advertising garbage?