In today’s era communication mediums have paved new and exciting paths for political activism. These innovative and technically advanced communication technologies have given people the ability to organize, plan and coordinate to execute effective political actions (Oliver Leis). Through these technologies, including mobile phones and social networking mediums, individuals are able to communicate in ways that weren’t possible just a few short years ago. This new form of communication allows us to make positive social and political changes through elections, demonstrations, and insurrections. (Rheingold). This was seen in January of 2011 when Egyptian activists organized an uprising against their own government. The protest came about due to poverty, unemployment and corruption from a presidency that lasted three decades. Little after a month of relying on social networking, and various other mobile technologies the people of Egypt succeeded in their political agenda of getting their President Hosni Mubarak, to resign.
The similar success stories such as the Jasmine Revolution of Tunsia in 2011 set off a major movement of similar protests throughout the Middle East and North Africa (Britannica.) Although in not that extreme of a measure, societies demand for political change is strongly seen in the 2008 elections. When President Obama’s camp used the same media advantages that protesters in Egypt used the results were undeniably successful. Using social media to deliver messages that addressed complaints that the public was having.
Utilizing social media allowed Obama’s team to connect to a larger demographic then his opponents, a possibly large reason for winning his first term. From these 2,379,102 Facebook supporters, the 112,474 twitter followers, the $656,357,572 in individual contributions (Center for Responsive Politics) Obama’s 2008 campaign was able to control social networking through his ability to use communication technologies to his advantage.
All that being said notwithstanding the positive results that occurred with the help of mobile media and technology authors such Oliver Leis would argue that these mobile mediums, in particular to his article the iPhone, have no way of ensuring political success. A point that Leis brings up is that the iPhone is particularly expensive, making it difficult for those looking to invoke changes in areas of poverty a major issue. But even outside of the iPhone itself even through more affordable mobile devices politics requires some sort of financial backing. President’s Obama’s victorious campaign required millions of dollars in contribution around 750 million to be exact (Center for Responsive Politics) and although 88% of those come from individual and group donations it is safe to say that the remaining 12% that compliance funds played a part in campaigns success. I say this to support Leis argument that the mobile technologies alone are not going to ensure politic change. But looking further away from money, we’ve seen in recent year in events of Eric Gardener that even with major media attention certain political actions remain the same. In my social justice research paper I explained that even though in certain states polices officers are required to carry camera the record there move footage is often deleted or tampered with. So what about the civilian cellphone recording? As seen in the case of Eric Gardner a grand jury in Staten Island voted not to indict the New York City police officer that was taped preforming a NYPD banned chock hold that resulted to the death of Eric Garner. Despite the viral video that one would assume almost everyone saw, the three previous time accused of false racially motivated arrest NYPD officers, Daniel Pantaleo, lawyer Stuart London was able to convince a grand jury that her client was innocent. While the outrageous indictment resulted to in protest that also was organized through social networking, and social media platforms in the case of Eric grader unfortunately even through political activism built off mobile media involvement there wasn’t any political change to occur. Even in recent in months, despite media organized protest that lead to the investigation of Ferguson, Missouri police department which eventually lead to findings of racial bias in the department many including citizen of the city choose to believe that it is for the betterment of the city that the department remains the same. That goes to show that even if with majors media outlets such as CNN reporting findings of injustice and thousand participating in this demand for thorough social media, technology and other media outlets mobile media is limited in what it can contribute to political changes. One can even say that mobile media has contributed tremendously in political change.
There is very little that can be done to ensure that the change that does occur due to mobile media involvement is for the good. Or that that change even will remain as it was initially anticipate by those that seek to invoke change through mobile media. That could be said today about Iran’s 2008 revolution and the current issues regarding their politic converses.
Leistert, Oliver. (2012). “The IPHONE’s Failure: Protests and Resistances.” Moving Data: The iPhone and the future of media. New York: Columbia University Press. P. 238-248.
Rheingold, Howard. (2008). “Mobile Media and Political Collective Action.” In Katz, J. E. (Ed.). Handbook of MOBILE COMMUNICATION Studies. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. P. 225-239
Mathias, Christopher . Workneh, Lilly (2014 December 03). Grand Jury Declines To Indict NYPD Officer In Chokehold Death Of Eric Garner. Huffington post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/12/03/eric-garner_n_6263656.html
(2011, Feb 14).Timeline: Egypt’s revolution. Al Jazeera. Retrieved from http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2011/01/201112515334871490.html
(2015, Jan 25). Protest deaths mark anniversary of Egyptian uprising. Al Jazeera. Retrieved from http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/01/protests-mark-fourth-anniversary-egyptian-uprising-150125100516885.html
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