Today I tried my hand in social good. I encouraged my Facebook friends to “Like” my status, and for every click I got, I would donate $1 to the Sebastian Ferrero Foundation. The Sebastian Ferrero Foundation is the designated charity for Twestival Local Gainesville.
Twestival is taking place around the world on Thursday, March 24. Twestival, aka Twitter Festival, uses social media for social good by connecting communities offline on a single day to highlight a great cause and have a fun event. Twestival is the largest global grassroots social media fundraising initiative to date. Since 2009, volunteers have raised close to $1.2 million for 137 nonprofits. All local events are organized 100% by volunteers and 100% of all ticket sales and donations go direct to projects.
On that note, I’ll be donating $80 to the Sebastian Ferrero Foundation because I received 80 likes on Facebook! That’s what I like to call using a social network for social good 🙂
Could modern democracy’s greatest force be the Internet and Social Media? More than elections, a governing body, and live town hall meetings? The world must really be coming to an end. The cyber world is emerging as a force to reckon with when battling the new democratic wave.
Okay, perhaps crowning the Internet as democracy’s greatest force is a slight exaggeration. Some people are calling the latest Egypt demonstrations as a direct product of the Twitter and Facebook Revolution. But, as FastCompany.com wrote, “Certainly, it takes a lot more than the 21st century version of a communication system to persuade people to take to the streets and risk harm, imprisonment, or death.” Fair elections, a responsible governing body, and civil discourse are still the essential keys a healthy democracy.
That said, social media played an integral role in the Egypt revolution. Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube did not send people out into the streets, but they undeniably accelerated the process.
Even before Egypt started blocking Twitter and Facebook, these tools were used to coordinate and spread the word about the demonstrations. Without social media, fewer people might have shown up and last Tuesday’s protests would likely be nothing more than a fading headline. In this respect, social media served as an effective organizing tool.
Social media also helped exert pressure on Washington simply because it allowed information to flow out of Egypt at a fast pace. Since Washington is a close ally of Egypt, at any other time, it probably would have spun the narrative in favor of the authority in power, in the interest of maintaining stability and its relationship. However, it would be foolish to ignore the endless details escaping the country. Whether they are truths, untruths, exaggerations, fallacies, opinions, or facts, no one can deny that a genuine uprising is taking place. Real time tweets (#egypt), live stream video, Facebook storytelling (Nick Kristof’s page), and Tumblr curation are allowing the Egypt scene to play out before our very eyes. With such vivid imagery pouring in, it would be irresponsible for Washington to downplay events and maintain a distanced posture. As a result, we’re witnessing a subtle shifting of the U.S. position, with officials declining to articulate explicit support for Mubarak.
As the revolution wears on, updates from the ground will continue to pour in and no doubt, affect US action. What better democratic force than civilians yielding a direct say on governmental policy? Who cares if it’s in less than 140 characters? Social media did not create the Egypt uprising, but it certainly made everything happen much sooner.
President Obama is currently speaking to a televised audience of millions in his State of the Union address. I am watching. But an even larger audience awaits on the web. What used to be a strictly televised event has transformed into a digital one, a conversation developed through multiple mediums.
Ian Elsner (pictured above) no longer reaches for the remote during nationally televised events like these. For him, his two computer screens do the trick. With one screen fixed on Twitter (following the trending topic #SOTU) and the other live streaming the address on Huffingtonpost.com, Ian Elsner stays attuned with headphones plugged in…while maintaining dialogue with friends via text. His room is silent. No blaring television in the background.
Ian is the product of a truly digital generation. One that is not stricken to merely one screen, but many.
Say what you want about this digital revolution, but one thing is undeniable: it is connecting us. In the case of the State of the Union address, social media has connected the public to the White House. The White House embraced technology in the lead-up to the speech. Not surprising since President Obama owes much of his presidential victory to the power of social media. Since then, citizens have felt more involved in the political process via the Internet. Concerned Americans posted their questions via YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. President Obama’s Facebook page shared a preview of his speech (posted on YouTube) and even released the full text days before. People read along as he delivered his words.
40 years ago- heck, even 10 years ago- this would have been unimaginable. The world stands at the cusp of a new era when anyone, regardless of age, income, or location, can question the people who are supposed to look out for their best interests. Of course, among the barrage of questions and comments, there’s bound to be a lot of white noise. After all, how in depth can anyone get in 140 characters?
That said, anything that gets people talking about what our elected officials are doing must be doing a good to society. All hail the digital revolution.