What a Million Dollar Tweet Looks Like

One tweet from Tesla motor company founder Elon Musk caused the stock share price of the car company to increase 4 per cent on Monday April 30th 2015, from $181.50 to $192.25. Elon Musk @elonmusk “Major new Tesla product line — not a car — will be unveiled at our Hawthorne Design Studio on Thurs 8pm, April 30” was tweeted to his 1.89 million followers. Although Musk was only playing a joke, that was an expensive joke. Anyone that’s seen or heard about his tweet quickly contacted his or her stockbroker with the intentions to buy buy buy. Not surprisingly this situation has occurred countless times. When a significant someone has a large following, a strong financial stance, or a big political influence release a message with a fragment of information causing the public to frenzy together spreading the message to their networks. We live in an era where mobile media and mobile telecommunications together can shape the world in the matter of hours.

Howard Rheingold author of Mobile Media And Political Collective Action and Oliver Leisters author of the iPhone Failure; Protest And Resistance both agree that mobile media has the ability to shape the social, political and financial aspect of our daily lives. More importantly Rheingold and Leisters also illustrate the effects of trying to Control Mobile media to manipulate it to “organize, plan and coordinate” for positive change or “stifle, misdirect or demoralize” for disruption and chaos.

Mobile media is forever evolving and changing the climate of the environment that we live in, which means that Mobile Media can be used for good and bad, and the effects of that media fluctuates the stance for private parties and interest groups. For years now mobile media paired with mobile phone have given grass root initiatives the communication ability that has been lacking. For instance unifying and mobilizing the individual’s interested in a cause “Mobile phones and the Internet have made it possible for people to coordinate and organize political collective action with people the we’re not able to organize before in places be weren’t able to organize before” (226 Rheingold). Massive Organizing is made easier by using a Mobile Media platform. These platforms can connect, update and rally supporters for a cause that is beneficial to one interest group but can disrupt the apposing parties. However mobile media has had a major impact domestically as it does abroad. Take for instance, in resent years various countries around Africa, “cell phones have been used into notable recent instances to combat election fraud and as a political organizing tool” (226 Rheingold). Giving citizens the ability to monitor and report their finding can ensure honesty and fairplay during elections. Surveillance of both protocol and activities of the staff is crucial because individuals can alert local authorities or their supporting party by brining attention to suspicious behavior that could sway voting trends. Rheingold says, “Mobile phones deed enhanced transparency of process campaigns effectiveness and reduction of fraud (227 Rheingold)”. However there is always an apposing force to any campaign, too much policing and involvement of the general public in any political operation can result in a want to control the climate.

Digital forms of mobile media can sometimes be untraceable by anyone thus keeping the original sender anonymous. Authors who send out messages remotely can use Internet cafes, random hotspots or use disposable devices to publish their message. Rheingold notes an event in which “Organizers use mobile phones and websites to coordinate swarming clusters of demonstrators who emerged from the general crowd to shut down traffic at specific locations at agreed times then melt back into the crowd (230 Rheingold)”. Actions such as these were planned out so carefully that it was impossible to find the culprits responsible for this organized anarchy. A lot of political advocates and organizers find mobile media to be a tool of publishing and sharing their thought and beliefs free of risk, especially if the one live in the United States. A organizer within the United States is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution which is freedom of speech. Which parallels that Mobile media is a form of freedom of speech. However using the First Amendment as an offensive tactic has been used to disrupt to Government and large companies since inception in 1791. Although protected by the constitution there’s still great precautions to take when sharing and distributing information. A great example of sharing and distributing information is a popular website called wikileaks. Wikileaks is a website dedicated to sharing sensitive, classified, confidential information about companies, political figures, military operations to the general public and it is all posted by anonymous sources.

Being an organizer for a social good can be very challenging and dangerous especially when you are advocating for the poor, weak and defenseless. However it can be even more of a difficult task when your opponent has more resources, capital and powerful connections for their initiative. That’s why it is important for party organizer, facilitators, managers and leaders to remain secretive and anonymous until they decide to reveal themselves and become a face for their campaign, and it all starts with the choice of tools. Oliver Leisters breaks down what the choice device that serious activist tool of choice is and it’s definitely not an iPhone.

Leister outlines several things that are crucial when looking to commit to a device, that is pricing, software restrictions and hardware limitations. Leister talks about the cost to acquire an iPhone and how “one might conclude that the iPhone is for the wealthy only” (Leisters 239). Next, Leister also goes on to indication that iPhone is not open source and is completely locked which he says, “the possibilities are limited” (Leister 239). Lastly the hardware, iPhones cannot be merged together using Bluetooth technology that can act as network router. Also another pit fall is the inability to remove the battery, which leads to concerns about the device being powered down that the microphone and camera can still be active. From Leister arguments he advocates’ for the use of android devices for an organizer because they can be low cost, complete customizable, has great utility uses and the battery can be removed for ample security.

All of these concerns about mobile media and its limitations that Rheingold and Leister mention bring forth the idea that this going to be an on going battle of control. How can one party get a leg up on another and ultimately who can control and regulate the media, because if that goal can be achieved then the world in which we live can be drastically shaped.

Work cited

Leistert, O. (2012). The iPhone’s Failure: Protests and Resistance. In Moving Data: The iPhone and the future of media. New York: Columbia University Press.

Musk, E. [elonmusk]. (2015, Mar 30). Major new Tesla product line — not a car — will be unveiled at our Hawthorne Design Studio on Thurs 8pm, April 30 [Tweet]. Retrieved from https://twitter.com/elonmusk/status/582581865682350080

Rheingold, H. (2008). Mobile Media and Collective Political Action. In Handbook of Mobile Communication Studies. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press.

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