Social Media has had a significant impact on mass organization in recent times.
Just for clarification, when I refer to mass organization, I am referring to the organization of the masses for a common goal or purpose. The tools that allow us to communicate with our close and not-so-close friends also allow us to organize ourselves to accomplish goals. These goals, of course, are for direct assault against the government and political revolution.
If you were thinking I was talking about those harmless Facebook groups, you were wrong. I am talking about how social media can be used for a greater goal than could be conceived prior to the current decade. The reason we love social media so much is the same reason that governments like those of China or Iran are censoring it and in some cases shutting it down completely.
Social media made movements like the Arab Spring, which rocked the Muslim World, possible. Specific tweets can be tracked as causes for certain revolts in Egypt and Tunisia. Even though these tools can be sited as a driving force behind the Arab Spring, we cannot say with certainty that without social media, the movement would not have occurred.
Let us consider the London Riots. These riots lasted for about a week and were some of the most violent that London has seen in this era. During the riots, looting, arson, mugging, and assault were widespread and in some streets, common-place. The riots were unusually uncontrollable for reasons that were not entirely clear to the police at the time. Every time a riot was broken up in one area and all of the rioters had scattered, they suddenly and mysteriously reassembled elsewhere and continued the violence.
This trend was easily explained when investigators looked into Blackberry use during the violence. It seemed that those with Blackberries were using Blackberry Messenger to assaults against the police. With BBM, rioters now had the ability to quickly reorganize themselves and initiate new assaults against neighborhoods and the police outright in a matter of minutes from when their last riot was scattered. This new ability of the mob to organize en masse made the riots far more violent and long-lasting than anyone could have expected prior to the event. With an estimated £200 million ($320 million) in property damage, more than 200 injured, and five deaths, it is clear that the riots were truly more powerful and potent than those in the past.
I am sure social media will become an even more revolutionary tool in the next decade–pardon the pun! After the riots, government officials in the United Kingdom made it clear that in the event that another riot break out under similar circumstances, BBM would be frozen so that the riots would end more quickly and less violently.
Personally, I find that course of action to be a blatant disregard for civil rights, but hey, it’s Britain, and with their policies on detention I am not in the least bit surprised. Personally, I hope that social media will be used in the future by people in oppressed nations like China in order for them to take control of a colluded government.