If there is one communication tool politics should be concerned about it would be the revolution of social media. Its power to become viral is underestimated and can generate enormous political effects. It allows citizens to become a part of a collective group equipped with data, intelligence and knowledge which can emphasise political action (Leong 2011).
Chinese governments have realised the potential of social media as they observed political leaders such as Ben Ali & Hosni Mubarak lose power recently. With social media allowing people too privately and publicly debate their views, it generates a sense of shared awareness (Shirky 2011, 25). The Jasmine Revolution is an example which explains the impact shared awareness can have on politics; evidently why China has implemented restrictions to prevent a mass political movement.
China’s ruling communist party has been urging tighter controls on the “virtual society” aiming to guide public opinion in a “healthy direction” (Foster 2011). Restrictions have been seen on news websites, blog sites and twitter. The word “jasmine” was blocked from Sina Weibo, a microblogging site in China. However as Walsh states political activism and social media are double-edged swords, governments are using social media tools to locate possible outbreaks. Although tech-savvy users have employed special software to circumvent web controls such as code words to spread information regarding politics online (Foster 2011).
Foster, Peter. “China facing new calls for Jasmine Revolution.” Accessed March 26, 2011. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/chine/8342414/China-facing-new-calls-for-jasmine-revolution.html
Leong, Susan. “KCB206 New Media: Internet, Self and Beyond: Week 4 lecture notes.” Accessed March 26, 2011. http://blackboard.qut.edu.au/
Shirky, Clay. 2011, “The Political Power of Social Media,” Foreign Affairs, 90 (1): 28-41. Accessed March 25 2011 . http://proquest.umi.com.ezp01.library.qut.edu.au/
Walsh, A. C. “Tweet Freedom.” The New Neighbours Blog, March 27. Accessed March 26. http://thenewneighbours.wordpress.com/author/intheneighbourhood/