On Sept 18, http://www.techsoupglobal.org organized a global tweet chat on “online activism and the use of social media in times of crisis.” People from different time zones participated in the session.
The discussions concerned how social media has been used during a crisis. Participants from Turkey and Bangladesh shared that social media played a powerful role in mobilizing and motivating people during crises or political unrest. In Turkey, the government closed Twitter operations for a time to stop an anti-government movement.
In Bangladesh, at one point Facebook played a strong role in gathering people’s opinions about the ongoing trial of war criminals. Facebook escaped a shutdown in Bangladesh, but YouTube did not. It was forced to suspend service in order to quell public reaction when a controversial movie on Prophet Muhammad — Innocence of Muslims — was released in 2012.
In the midst of the discourse, a participant brought up the issue of integrity in social media. False information can misdirect the public and cause greater harm. Censorship and maintaining integrity in social media emerged as the two major concerns during a crisis.
In developing countries, the government has the power to close any social media outlet at any time. People’s right to information is not protected as it is Western countries. A gatekeeper is necessary to balance the dichotomy. But the question is when? When will developing countries of the world get the full benefit of social media in times of crisis?