#powertothepeople – the rise of social media

Looking back over 2009, social media has had a significant part to play in some of the major news stories:

  • Hudson River plane crash (January)

Twitter was the tool for first broadcasting the news that a passenger plane had crashed in the Hudson River in New York. People uploaded photos as they walked past the crash on the pavement and soon the news broke around the world.

  • Michael Jackson’s death (June) 

Far away from civilisation and walking around in a field in Glastonbury, I was unaware of Jackson’s death until I started getting texts from my friends. You could hear people talking about Jackson though, but no-one was quite sure whether to believe it. People started trying to check the internet on their phones and seeing if the rumour was true.

  • Iranian election (June)

The Iranian government imposed restrictions on the media during the elections by jamming mobile phone coverage and blocking access to social networking sites on the internet. However, the Iranian people still made contact with the rest of the world by using Twitter and posting videos, photos and messages.

  • Trafigura vs. The Guardian (October)

Twitter was absolutely swamped with messages during the Trafigura scandal. The Guardian‘s editor Alan Rusbridger publicly thanked Twitter users for all the support on his Twitter account. Twitter undoubtedly played a part in the triumph for freedom of information.

Alan Rusbridger thanks Twitter users

  • Rage Against The Machine for Christmas No 1 (December)

A Facebook group, “RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE FOR CHRISTMAS NO.1”, has been urging members to purchase the song Killing in the Name by Rage Against the Machine to ensure that it makes the UK Christmas No 1. The group has 836,280 members as of 17 December, 2009 and has attracted a lot of media attention. Several celebrities, including Bill Bailey, Sir Paul McCartney and Simon Pegg, have announced their support.

Bill Bailey's tweets

And now there is Ataque de Panico, which has won its maker a Hollywood contract as the BBC reported on 17 December, 2009. With over 1.5 million views on YouTube, Fede Alvarez, a producer from Uruquay, has attracted a lot of attention for his 4 minutes 48 seconds video.

Q. So what has social media shown in 2009?

A. That everyone has a voice and that that voice can be heard by people thousands of miles away and still have make a difference.

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