We have seen that social media bonds people who share same interests or goals and helps them raise their voices in many cases. For example, the “#BringBackOurGirls” campaign seems to play a greater role in drawing the attention of the world than the Nigerian government. Due to its convenience and efficiency compared to the traditional media, people (protestors) are using social media to reach out to the public for political purpose. And the network in social media helps forming groups of people who were spread all around.
However, social media is helping not only the protestors but also the dictators.
Seva Gunitsky, the political scientist, says that dictators are taking advantage of the social media to strengthen their regime for the following reasons in his article "Social media helps dictators, not just protesters."
“First, social media is becoming a safe and relatively cheap way for rulers to discover the private grievances and policy preferences of their people.
Second, social media is a reliable way to gauge the effectiveness of local officials, who are often unaccountable to their constituencies.
Third, social media provides an effective way to reach out to the regime’s supporters.
Finally, social media offers a convenient way to shape the contours of public discourse among the public at large.”
Seva Gunitsky explains that using the social media for autocracy will be more effective to boost the regime rather than censorship and control. Indeed, the virtue of the tool benefits all users equally, including my enemy.
Is it a too gloomy picture for the democracy? No, it means that we are all living in a time of change. We are facing a big wave of digital change. But Big brothers are jumping into the wave. So the change requires a new approach and strategy to have constructive future.