Thesis Paper: Risks of Social Media

The use of social media for peace can also have some risks and unwanted consequences. Experts identified some of the risks associated with the use of social media for peace. He describes how the warning-response gap can be greatly reduced with the use of social media. The warning-response gap indicates the time that is required to administer an effective response to a perceived warning to peace and stability. Because social media increases the speed at which information in the form of text, images and video can be generated and shared, the time taken to develop and implement a response is greatly reduced. In this way, the extent of damage to life and property can be reduced.

At the same time, users warn that the use of social media can lead to some costs specifically associated with it.  They cite the example of the Egyptian revolution in 2011 when the government of Hosni Mubarak was overthrown after widespread protests organized through social media. Around 800 people lost their lives during the protests and revolution. Hence, this factor should also be considered when developing campaigns for peace-building over the Internet. Another useful application of social media in creating peace in society is in the electoral process. In developing countries, particularly in Africa, the process of conducting elections is often mired in controversy because of the lack of adequate reporting and transparency.

This is usually followed by widespread protests and violence by the parties contesting the elections. Similar incidents were observed in recent elections conducted in Zimbabwe and Cote d’Ivoire. These countries have in common the fact that they tend to be ruled by autocratic governments or dictatorships. This has led some to believe that social media can be used as a tool to promote democracy in societies. Social media can be used to create an additional channel of communication that can offer updated reports of the election process to reduce ambiguity and increase access to information in the country

It is argued that social media can be used to make the electoral process fairer and clearer so that the results are acceptable to all parties and the incumbent party becomes unable to influence the counting of votes. This lends some support to the view that social media is a democratic tool. It achieves this effect by narrowing the gap between those in power from those who do not have access to it.


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