Shades of Grey for social media

29 09 2011

Scenario: digruntled, disenchanted and disenfranchised population rises up against dominant parts of society, law and order and government.

One small event triggers an uprising which spreads through society. Using social media, sections of the populace spread the word and contact like-minded people.

Twitter and Facebook are used to organise similar events in other cities until the whole country is seemingly embroiled.

The Government fights back but are taken by surprise, by the size and contagion of the actions occurring around the country.

Your question: Is this use of social media Good or Bad? Make your decision.


Now…..I’ll give you two contexts.

1. Egypt – overthrow of Mubarak

2. UK – London riots

So answer again – Good or Bad?

And a third context: following the London riots, social media was used by the population to self-organise the clean-up.

Now, Good or Bad?

Ah, if only life were that simple.

For some really interesting infographics on the use of Social Media in the Egyptian uprisings take a look at the below diagram (from Hootsuite University on Facebook)

UPDATE 9/11/11: A recent survey by security company Unisys has found 48% of Britons surveyed support the shut-down of social media sites during times of uprising.

A further questions revealed “46% of respondents said the authorities should have open access to data about social network users to prevent organized criminal activity….42% believe social network providers should get more information on people using their services before allowing use, while 49% think the authorities need more resources to monitor our online behaviour”. (quoted from the above Forbes article)

This leads to some interesting privacy discussions. If we don’t allow phone-tapping without authority, why do we want to allow it to occur on social media? (If you privacy settings are lax, its your own look-out.)

While, in the interests of fairness. I have to say that I have not seen the original survey so I don’t know if the questions were asked in a fair and unbiased manner, nor do I know the timing in relation to the London riots, but it is interesting that people seem to have black or white answers to very complex contextual questions.

Do you believe social media sites should be shut down in times of civil unrest?
Do you believe authorities should have the ability to monitor online communications without having to justify it or seek a warrant first?




2 responses

3 11 2011
Social Media news « Mud Map to Life in the Modern Age

[…] you are interested in Social Media, you might also like… Social Media in Emergency Situations Shades of Grey for Social Media Click-bait Stalker-net Part II Gen Z, Millennials and Privacy Developing your Company’s […]

9 02 2012
And today’s bizarre social media news…… « Mud Map to Life in the Modern Age

[…] government – and hey presto, the end of any uprising. This comes back to my previous posting Shades of Grey for Social Media. Whether you are a “good guy” is a matter of perspective, and while you may be in […]

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