The First Social Media War
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Student Life

The First Social Media War

The wars of the future will be fought both on ground and in app.

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The First Social Media War
Hacking Conflict

As years go by, the printing press becomes more and more outdated, and, though it has played an important role in society, obsolete. The dawn of the internet age has brought with it powerful tools used by a new kind of journalism. This new media journalism’s powerful global reach and accessibility have made itself available to any sharp citizen or stalwart watchdog. It is because of this that many violations of human rights have been reported and documented when, in the age of the press, many would have gone unnoticed, or ignored for lack of evidence.

In spring of 2011, the Arab Spring protests in Syria sparked what is now known as the Syrian Civil War. As of March 2013, death toll estimates reached 70,000, including 153 journalists. The large number of journalist deaths in the Syrian civil war has led many citizen journalists to take up the mantle of the fallen, using social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and youtube to spread reports of the war in real time. It is this which has led to some calling it the first “Social Media” or “YouTube” war.

According to new media site MediaShift, “Information is distributed less through official media outlets, such as TV broadcasts and newspapers, and more through online social networks in real-time, thus—more than ever—putting reporting on human rights abuses beyond the control of governments” (Para. 3). Global human rights watchdog Amnesty International are using videos, such as one where prisoners are executed in violation of international law regarding the treatment of prisoners of war, as evidence towards cases in international platforms and courts.

Amnesty does warn, however, that, “Relying excessively on citizen journalism and social media thus bears the risk of overlooking abuses--just because it doesn't show up on my Twitter feed doesn’t mean it’s not happening”. Berkeley Law calls the incoming evidence a, “Coming Storm” due to the volume and speed of incoming violation reports and evidence.

It won't be until much later that we begin to understand the full extent of the impact social media has made on human rights, but it is safe to say that, for better or for worse, it impact will have a significant and lasting effect.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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