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Why governments and corporations fear social media.

Earlier this year, I noticed a sudden rise in the influence and power of social networks over both governments and corporations. On three major issues (SOPA, Carrier IQ and Susan G. Komen for the Cure), social networks forced powerful organizations to reverse course.

I wondered then if such dramatic defeats at the hands of the social networks was a fluke or a trend. And now I know: It’s a trend, and a growing one.

Here's why governments and corporations are terrified of the growing power of social media.
cecilia FXX's profile photoMichael Fagan's profile photoKenneth McCormack's profile photoMonde Mason Mase's profile photo
Great article.

An enlightened citizenry is indispensable for the proper functioning of a republic. Self-government is not possible unless the citizens are educated sufficiently to enable them to exercise oversight. It is therefore imperative that the nation see to it that a suitable education be provided for all its citizens. It should be noted, that when Jefferson speaks of "science," he is often referring to knowledge or learning in general.
"I know no safe depositary of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." --Thomas Jefferson to William C. Jarvis, 1820. ME 15:278
"Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves, therefore, are its only safe depositories. And to render even them safe, their minds must be improved to a certain degree." --Thomas Jefferson: Notes on Virginia Q.XIV, 1782. ME 2:207
Fear is big influencer of many actions.
:( I really wanted to read that article, not this:
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The use of social media was initially embraced positively by governments when first used during 'Arab Spring' uprisings; until they quickly realised it could also equally be used by their populous!
I think the guy just left a stinky poop in the bathroom.
Governments and corporations should embrace social media for the same reasons that they should embrace hackers.
beware of those who usurp the power of the people to poop?
does social media allows people to begin to govern themselves?
soon will we not be borg, the next genration in HD social media?
Mike, that picture represents how I feel MOST days, social media or not... ;-)
Well, if corporations would stop doing bad things, they wouldn't need to fear social media.
Actually they're not afraid of social media, but rather accountability.
Which is why Ron Paul may still have a chance at saving our liberty and the integrity of are Countries Constitution.
Coming November we'll see if social media is powerful or not. If people vote for the same lying bastards betraying their promises but looking good on TV, then social media is not doing what it could.
Alex i think we all have to wait and see what's coming coz we are tired of hypocricy
Same Type? Interesting view of many who serve at great cost to themselves.

Not all are 'lying bastards'. Having served on a number of Congressional campaigns as a Comm Dir and in one case manager, I know a number of these people and lots of staffers and other by phone.

By and large, office holders are making less and doing more than the average six figure+ individual in the private sector. If average 12-16 hour days, living with a roommate in DC because there isn't enough to support two homes, commuting (cross-country sometimes) every weekend or at least every other weekend to the point of permanent jet lag...if all that genuinely still paints a portrait of 'lying bastards' using a large brush then so be it. Vote with your mind and your heart.
Corporations and government (especially government) doesn't understand social media or it's use... yet. Just wait until they co-opt social media. You won't be able to tell what's true and what's not.
It a powerful tool...but either way if people come together as one, all is needed a large park or space and let the people speak.
+Stuart O'Neill , I am sorry if I gave the impression that all lawmakers are lying bastards. I did not mean that. My point is social media can highlight the lies and single out the liars and help people stop voting for them. Lamar Smith is a perfect example, he keeps pushing the laws that 98% of the country opposes, while pretending to be representing The People, while in fact he represents several big corporations.
they fear it
I tried to go on my senators FB page and voice my opinion about CISPA and it was down when it came back up the next day there were about 35 posts all stating in in various ways how if he voted for CISPA he was betraying his loyal followers (these are the same people who cheered him for voting against the Democrats / Obama) two hr later all posts were gone mentioning CISPA.
They don't want any knowledge getting out for if you know anything you have power and the more a person knows the less you can control them. the person with the more accurate and current information has the most power.
In the mean time, corporate profits are skyrocketing along with personal debt, and income equality, disposable income, and personal savings are all plummeting. Lobbyists are getting exactly what they want in most cases while we bitch about it in various internet walled gardens. Yeah they must be terrified.

(Edit: Household debt is actually down:
Bitching about is fine and dandy, but social media begins affecting things on larger scale. Several million people singing a petition is a new phenomenon. Unwanted information about upcoming laws is getting out and spreads like wildfire, this is new. We'll see how much social media affects election results in November.
This piece was right up my alley, +Mike Elgan! My favorite line from your article is: "Of course, when public opinion is divided, the power of social media neutralizes itself." It stumped me because I wondered, "is that really true?" Today, what is public opinion? Social media breaks barriers and rids us of that "geographical isolation" you mentioned. The public is no longer the people of New York or even the people of the United States - the public is now whomever with an internet connection. Globalization has found its way into every industry - and as a result, the public identity appears to have gone. At least, the general public. Awakens the discussion of whether or not we lose our identity once we turn on a computer and engage with a globalized community.

Governments need to be more conscientious and examine the opinion of the international community. Appeasing their people and/ or their government is no longer enough - and as you've mentioned, social media and PR is terribly difficult to control. In some form, they're losing their market and "public" and whether we like it or not, they're scared. Really, really, really enjoyed reading this article! :)
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