Social media may give people a chance to tell the world about little things, like what they had for breakfast or what colour they want to dye their hair, but it goes much further than that. Social media has created a new found power through communication between citizens across the world, allowing us to share what institutions will not. Allowing us to redefine the way news is broadcast.
We’ve now reached a point where prosumers are becoming ‘citizen journalists’ across the globe because broadcasts of media have become increasingly social with the internet as the main carrier for all mediums. Prosumers are now sharing news before governments are even aware of it. A great example of this was in 2008 when a devastating earthquake hit Sichuan, China. Before the government was even aware anything had happened, it was announced on Twitter by the citizens and donations were set up worldwide within half a day!
The clip below shows a citizen’s footage of the earthquake, uploaded onto Youtube on 12th May 2008: the day of the natural disaster.
This progressed to citizens of China reporting on the corruptness of their government and “revealing criminal acts”, as expressed by famous Chinese blogger Han Han, who is one of the many able to report on events in China through social media. The power of amateurs running social media and its threat to an absolute government was clearly shown when the “Firewall of China” had to reestablish itself soon after the earthquake. Under this firewall, citizens can only report news that does not directly target the government. Those who do, risk facing prison.
But not all governments regain control. Through using social media in Egypt, the citizens were able to force their dictator, Hosni Mubarak to resign.
So why are citizen journalists dominating professional ones? Because to publish any piece of news via social media takes mere seconds, and to circulate it is just as fast. Compare this to an institution that needs to first find resources, then later have their work edited and printed. No wonder social media dominates! Social media theorist Clay Shirky, believes professional control is over forever.
Let’s prove him right.