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Social Media: Democracies and Autocracies

That President Obama made the first truly effective democratic political use of Social Media is in no doubt. Obama engaged, communicated honestly and we’ve seen the result. Social Media is inherently democratic, since that which the masses deem “valuable” whether that be news, a good story or picture or video, rises to the top.

Today, the government of the U.A.E. (the Emirates) officially blocked Flickr. Last year the U.A.E. government censored much content on YouTube, although not all. The Chinese government also has a team of people constantly shutting down sites it feels are threatening. In Belarus the government often disables the mobile phone network to stop txt messaging use for rallies.
What I believe we are seeing is the impact Social Media tools are having politically around the world. Even Facebook itself has been accused of political interference of an independent filmmaker who did a film about Cube and America and easing the political sanctions; Facebook says that’s absurd – but they did delete his account. The Brazilian government places restrictions on electronic media usage for political candidates as well.
Fortunately, in Western Democratic nations such censorships are not in place. Despite Elections Canada stating election results cannot be “broadcast” before polls close in lagging time zones, they admitted there is little they can do. At least in Canada, America and Europe citizen opinion and democratic liberties are debated and discussed more openly.
What do you think? Will we see increased censorship of political dissent in communist and autocratic countries in the coming months/years? Can these censoring governments control the push to democracy? Already Social Media tools are being used by people to result in democratic changes and reforms…how “deep” will this go?
It’s certainly a challenging and difficult issue to address.

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