Social media is like water, a flow of freely democratic voice produced and consumed whenever, wherever. Social is what we’ve been doing forever as humans just amplified now because everyone’s got a mic, a computerized phone in their hand.
Some governments disdain Internet conversation for obvious reasons. They’re afraid of false rumors which lead to unnecessary disruption. Yesterday, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan expressed sharp criticism:
“There is now a menace which is called Twitter. The best examples of lies can be found there. To me, social media is the worst menace to society.”
What government officials generally overlook is that online tribes mimic real life sentiment. The Internet and social media are just tools for better organizing public opinion.
Sure, garrulous rumors spread and threats get exaggerated on Twitter but an equal number of people with more moderate, fact checked opinions balance out the conversation.
Twitter is hands down the most powerful social media tool. Facebook is still by and large a private network. It took a few years but people are finally accustomed to sharing their information with the world on Twitter.
In fact, there were 3k tweets per minute about Turkey this weekend, 90% originating in Turkey itself. Fear is staying silent. The invisible are the ones really hiding something.
Turkey is at the crossroads between modernity and traditional ways of life. And social media is checking its temperature. Unless Erdorgan sees Twitter as added value, he’ll face long-lasting rebuke. It may even see the end of his rule.
Check out the photoset from the #OccupyGezi crowd yesterday at Zucotti Park, NYC.
Special thanks to Reuters social media editor Anthony De Rosa for the supportive tweet.