Discussing my last post about the “occupy” movement with several commentators on various platforms, it struck me that Social Media may reduce the influence of the mainstream media in more ways than at first thought.
A prime example is the way the mainstream print, radio and TV treated the Tea Party movement (as right-wing rebels) compared to their portrayal of the “occupy-what-ever-street-ers”, as brave crusaders only interested in helping the unemployed.
Both viewpoints are incorrect, but because the major newspapers and TV channels largely follow a more liberal line, the more liberal and socialist type movements , no matter how potentially destructive they may be, get favored treatment. Even in today’s reports of the widespread violence and carnage in Greece, rioters are still being treated sympathetically.
The way that social media helped the “Arab Spring” to spread was widely welcomed as beneficial. It’s role in the spread of the riots in the UK not so well-regarded and discussions on some limitation of access were demanded by the authorities.
As the role of the traditional media in influencing public opinion diminishes, and that of social media increases, how will public opinion be shaped? Will social media in fact level the playing fields, promote un-biased dissemination of information, or will it play into the hands of the more media savvy?
Will it depend which side of the political divide has the most active tweeters? The bigger financial resources? People with the most time on their hands?
Or will it depend on the social media activities of the great, usually silent majority in the middle who do not get too excited about “causes” either on the left or the right.
Let’s hope that as the role of old style media declines, enough moderate, law-abiding people add their voices to the social media chatter to maintain some semblance of order.
If that happens, we may yet end up with more balanced reporting and less biased promotion of causes or occupations.
As with campaigns by, or against, brands, products and businesses, the side with its act together and resources to spread the message, will reap the benefit.
Interesting times ahead, but also a bit frightening, could the future of a government, or even a country be changed by a single tweet?
Wishing you success in all your endeavours.