DIGITAL AMERICA

The real role of social networks in political activism

// Posted by on 04/05/2013 (1:59 AM)

Tec de Monterrey

The real role of social networks in political activism

The Internet and social networks are great aids towards the mobilization of population but not to the extent they have been pictured. For example, in Egypt it is important to acknowledge how the information was spread viva voce, citizen to citizen and the possible use of social action networks from the Muslim Brotherhood which are greatly organized unlike other existing powers in these countries.

The situation of Egypt in 2010 had an enormous impact in American citizens, seen from a perspective that Egypt was under a military regime and still they were able to raise their voices and be heard. Meanwhile, in the other side of the world, the Occupy Wall Street movement in the United States, a country which has set itself as a democratic crusader. Due to their freedom of speech, it didn’t seem as something that would be challenging. They needed to get their message to the population, here is where the media plays an important role especially social networks because television and newspaper’s are controlled by power elites that would most likely not support the movement in order to maintain their self interests.

Furthermore, the US also has the Tea Party movement from 2009 that received great coverage and coverage from main television and radio networks from the radical and conservative spectrum. The movement became popular within middle age people, mainly white men located in the suburbs in districts historically associated with the Republican Party. The movement, which was initiated within the middle class, had an immediate support directly and indirectly by diverse economic groups and Political conservative elites. Elites that had long ties with different industries, deriving from health insurance industries to defence contractors. At the same time, it extended its consensus foundation towards the lower sector of society. This example shows a clear pattern of interests of the media elite in the United States.

Conversely, in Mexico a social movement lead by young students, called #YoSoy132 took great advantage of the use of media within social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. This was done to raise awareness regarding the Mexican vote in federal elections because big television networks and newspapers controlled by power spheres only move towards their own economic interests with specific Political parties.

As conclusion,  Mexico has been influenced by the United States in a great deal of aspects, mainly because of the geographic closeness and the good diplomatic and commercial relations within the two. These relations allow the great consumption of American products and the high number of American businesses in Mexico. Likewise we are also influenced by television series, newscasts and movies.

by Luis Alberto Gutierrez Murillo A01215632


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Celia said...

What do you think it says about US culture that the “elites” seem to have a lot of weight in media interests? Do you think that the US media has perverse incentives to report certain movements over others? The Occupy Movement had more social network attention than the Tea Party movement, but which would you argue was more successful? I wonder if there is any real way to quantify a successful movement through social media and media coverage. It seems as though usually these movements don’t have one clear goal, which might dilute the outcomes to looking like a clear success.

// 04/09/2013 at 12:17 am

Tec de Monterrey said...

Hi Celia, answering your questions, I believe that elites in the United States are major players in the media, as it they are in the rest of the world. Elites and the State control information caring for their own interests and decide upon which movements may affect them directly or indirectly depending on mass level and seriousness of the event.
It is also important to consider that the networks have their own political ideology but above all freedom of expression. In the “Tea Party” case, American elites were affected as the rest of the population on how the U.S. government was indebted. To avoid dealing with strategies to address the crisis of 2008, the interesting thing is, the immediate support direct and indirect of the economic groups and conservative political elites long tradition of various industries linked to the other side with the Occupy Wall Street. Elites maintained a conservative posture and outside the movement, the movement was composed mainly of students, civil servants, artists and some unions, a popular movement so to speak. But Occupy Wall Street movement had more relevance and impact within American society that came in a domino effect (Arab spring) in the Middle East and Arab countries on the issue of defending human rights, freedoms, democracy, among other things, who were against the U.S. government for failing to prevent or make effective changes in the global financial crisis. On the other hand the Tea Party movement, was an internal movement as a result of national crisis that began in the United States, and the position being taken by the government to the people. I personally do not think there is a real way to quantify a movement based on social networks and coverage of the media, since not everyone has access to these. That’s why these movements are performed only in large cities (develop cities or countries).

// 04/09/2013 at 11:53 pm