First of all, I would like to highlight that this post, is not in anyway related to any political affiliation and Limopalm is not affiliated with any political party or personality. We have Limopalmians with different political opinions, yet we respect each other’s stand, which does not affect in anyway to how we work, what we work on and our teamwork.
Within the past year, we have seen various political uprisings, from which the Arab Spring, London riots and Russian election riots are all noteworthy. If you have been active in Twitter or Facebook, I am sure you would have been better and more frequently updated by the social networks about these events than the International Media. We have all seen movements such as Occupy Wall Street and Arab spring on twitter, uniting people miles apart to fight together for one cause. It helped the word spread quickly, keeping every single follower tuned of what’s going on with various hashtags on Twitter & dedicated pages & groups on Facebook.
The past 6 months in Maldives have been a very historical & insightful period in the nation’s political arena. The recent political unrest in Maldives initiated with the issues of Israel flight & monuments in Addu. This led to a religious rally on 23rd December, arrest of the chief judge of the criminal court, protests of the police, which followed the resignation of the than President, Mohamed Nasheed. The Vice President, Dr Mohamed Waheed Hassan Manik was sworn in the following day, attaining the post of Presidency. The allegations of a police mutiny, a coup and an illegitimate government by the supporters of Nasheed & clashes between the people and the security forces were all events and results of the political turmoil. During these events, Facebook & Twitter have always kept us updated. In fact, it had built up the hype of the protests, letting tweeps engage in various conversations and attaining huge amounts of followers, with popular hashtags related to the event.
Social Media played an important role in deviating people’s opinions from both ends & even strengthening one’s opinion or information by comments, retweets & favorites on twitter and likes on Facebook. Popular Facebook pages with thousands of likes erupted from both the supporters of the Government and the opposition. Supporters were informed of various events, updates, political humor, scandals and rumors through these pages.
Following the transition of powers & police brutality, number of political leaders, Parliament Members & Government officials started tweeting and engaging with the public in promoting their views and opinions of the events. Twitter became a vastly popular source of networking creating a forum of conversations, attacks, accusations and even harassment.
While writing this article I requested my fellow tweeps for suggestions and advices on the topic. Surprisingly, I got loads of noteworthy points from which, one was the “effect of rumors”. Rumours such as unconfirmed death reports and attacks were viral on twitter.It was surprising how the rumors took into so much heat, that frustrated tweeps kept requesting to confirm prior to tweeting which resulted in the popularity of the #CONFIRMED tag within the Maldivian twitter community.
Youtube became a prevalent medium for scandals and political videos. Both supporters of the former president and the current government came up with several videos relating to the events or political individuals to suppor their claims. Audio scandals & clips were uploaded to applications like Soundcloud, which includes recorded conversations of politicians. These videos and audio were further flourished to the community through twitter and Facebook.
The power of the social networking websites were immense. It influenced the nation’s media, government officials & opposition massively due to the heavy popularity & utilization by the general public. Popular newspapers & television networks often shared information flourished through these networks. Social Media’s popularity was so effective that even the current Attorney General of Maldives came up with a press release reporting information a fake twitter ID tweeting by her name and position.
Social Media had both positive and negative impacts in the Maldivian political atmosphere. Twitter & Facebook became a much more trusted source for updates than the Nation’s Media which are often claimed to be biased. Real time updates and pictures were tweeted by eyewitnesses, the general public and even news reporters. One of the best results was that social Media became bridge, which eliminated the age old barrier between the general public & the political appointees & leaders. One of my fellow tweeps tweeted that “Twitter & Facebook are the only places which has democracy”. Ironically, it seemed quite true as we regularly see everyone tweeting and conversing their ideas, opinion publicly without any obstacles even with the government officials and opposition leaders.
Social Media also had its negative effects on the whole community. After the recent events, I saw an entirely different face in Twitter & Facebook. The ever so peaceful & friendly community in the social networks became filled with rage and hatred. I witnessed age-old friendships getting torn up, harassments & false acquisitions, which is indeed sad to see. But, we cannot blame the social networking websites for these as no one can control what you think & say except yourself!
Lastly, hail to Twitter, Facebook & Youtube! You have definitely made our lives better! While concluding, out of context, I haven’t got the opportunity to state this before, but since its relative to our topic, the Facebook timeline is an awesome web revolution. We have recently created our Facebook page according to the timeline view and the customization is epic! Check it out!