Give Peace a Chance? Social Media, Politics, Potential, & the User

It’s no secret that social media has become the modern method of communicating with large numbers of individuals at any given moment. Whether you follow my blog on your iPad, a smartphone, or while sitting at a laptop computer, the vast majority of people I have encountered are able to know the information by touching the screen or clicking a “Like” or “Follow” button. That being said, social media has the potential (and power) to create a movement for change… social, political, and even economic. In a recent article on CNET.com, social media presented an opportunity for two young women to demonstrate the potential for peace between their two countries through an innocent backstage photobomb at the Miss Universe pageant preparation in Miami, FL (see article at http://cnet.co/1zH4nnB). Miss Israel and Miss Lebanon were part of a backstage photobomb that was later posted on Instagram. Although both women saw the Miss Universe competition as a wonderful chance to meet other young women from around the world and befriend a few, one of their adoring fans, most likely an Instagram follower, took offense to the two women posing together. For those that are not aware, Israel and Lebanon are still at war, and apparently this innocent photobomb greatly distressed one of the Instagram followers enough to say that this was politically incorrect. I’m not one for politics, and it saddens me daily to see that war is still a reality of our world. However, I have a difficult time understanding why this innocent photobomb was NOT used as an opportunity to demonstrate the possibility of peace. The photobomb could have been taken instead as a sign that two women from countries who are at war deciding to put aside their countries’ political differences and shown the world that there is something called the HUMAN spirit and commonality to maintain peace (if even for a few days in order to enjoy the company of others).

In The Last Prophet book series (Book Two), the main character talks about our responsibility as a human race to take care of one another; that perhaps the reason for conflict goes deeper than the idea that we do not like the way someone looks or worships or their ancestral background. Social media has the awesome potential to create these opportunities for people in conflict to see that we are not so different from one another; potential to create situations through likes, sharing, and following posts that encourage positivity, peace, acceptance, and civility. Unfortunately, social media is simply the means by which these happen.

Recent posts from Facebook friends I follow have also shown me that it only takes one person to ruin the reputation of a legitimate business (and someone’s career). Censorship has been running across various pages and even the most innocent of pages have been marked by individuals as “offensive” or inappropriate for their site, earning the page administrator a message that they have been “blocked from posting for up to 30 days.” I have seen at least two acclaimed romance novelists and two reputable photographers endure this, and I was disappointed to learn about the final outcome. I also had two publisher friends whose pages were “removed” because the word “publisher” was not allowed on a page, even though this was their primary social media site for advertising their services to authors. Again, these are examples of social media’s impact on how one decides to share their public business.

Ultimately, it is the USER of social media who determines what posts to present. Perhaps it is not Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or any other social media that holds the power and potential, after all.

Are social media administators hold the responsibility of determining what posts on their sites? Or is it still the user’s responsibility to create a safe environment for all to share? How far reaching should social media’s control over postings extend? Please comment in the space provided.

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