The Power of Social Media
Social media are social structures composed of people connected by one or more types of relationships or who share beliefs or knowledge. Social media has come to transform ways to make communication and users use them as a way to get information about what they want.
Currently, social media are not only limited to the relationship but also represent a source of news and research, with the advantage of interactivity and participation, enabling not only access to information but also the fact that it is possible to produce information. Thanks to the interaction and freedom that exists, people are increasingly using social media to express themselves. This is causing some inconvenience to those who try to control public opinion because it is almost impossible to control in a space as vast as social media, where its main purpose is even if people publish what they think.
Social media has become, over time, public debate spaces. These will naturally influence the opinion of people in relation to a given subject. From the revolution of social media, anyone can expose their thoughts, opinions, arguments, and criticism on any subject, doing what several years ago was impossible. The users seek to expose their opinions without modesty, for some are so deceived that they seek through these means ways of being seen and heard, without caring for the consequences.
It is no longer necessary to go through an intermediary of communication to have the opinion exposed, it is now everything in real time, whether in a negative or positive way. With this current scenario, social media have become a point of enormous influence for the present society, since many people concentrate on these platforms their main forms of contact with information and contents, being also one of the most frequent forms for the consultation of products and services.
With the generalization of social media, public opinion is no longer restricted to a group of people present in the media and open to ordinary people, who find in their social media a way of presenting their points of view and a way of helping in the construction of the opinion of the whole society.
It is indisputable that people can get the attention of the authorities through a computer with access to the media and without leaving home, using, for example, social media. Therefore, the efficiency of social media becomes evident mainly because it is possible to promote political, economic and social changes. Social media demonstrate that we are facing an ideal platform for the creation of real social movements or momentary events. In fact, the use of social media as a way of propagating public opinion has shown itself capable in several situations, in which masses are created in relation to a certain theme. There is no doubt that social media have revolutionized the way opinion is formed.
When analysts want to study public opinion in societies, one of their sources may be social networks. Thus, after collecting a large number of opinions on a particular subject can find the data needed for the analysis. As social media are increasingly registering more users, analysts benefit from this factor. Another advantage is the veracity of opinions on social media. These opinions can be published anonymously, so there is an authenticity of opinions, and there are no reasons to find opinions that do not correspond to the truth.
Social media are the scene of great demonstrations and mobilizations. Several cases gained prominence in the social media and instigated the population to act. This is the name of activism, which today seems to be a regular practice well received by users of social media: environmental causes, human rights advocacy or reaction to political facts are often the focus of attention. Many authors have tried to define what, among the various possible collective actions, is called the social movement.
There are several world-known examples that can help you understand the true extent of the impact that social networking can have on public opinion. One of the most striking examples, due to both the consequences and their size, was that of the so-called “Arab Spring”. A revolutionary wave of demonstrations and protests that have been taking place in the Middle East and North Africa since 2010.
According to the Dubai School of Government report, “nine out of ten Tunisians and Egyptians said they used Facebook to organize the protests and increase the population’s participation in the demonstrations.” Even in other Arab countries, in this period of time, there has been a great evolution in the number of subscribers of social media. Also according to the same document, the number of Facebook users in the Arab world grew from 14.8 million to 27.7 million in the period of one year, between February 2010 and 2011. Through this data is clearly visible that social media played an important key role in the Arab Spring.
By Eduardo Pereira