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3.4 Twitter Opening up Countries and Cultures (Objs. 1, 3)

Perhaps you are one of a growing number of younger people who tweet regularly. Twitter and other social media have become primary news sources for many adults under age thirty, Pew Internet Project found when it studied the viral campaign Kony 2012. This 30-minute indictment of brutal Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony, released by the group Invisible Children, has become one of the most watched videos of all time on YouTube (currently at 97 million views and counting) and Vimeo (18 million plays). It was by far the top story on Twitter and thus again confirmed social media’s power to galvanize people across the globe.110 During the Arab Spring and the uprising in Libya, social media also allowed uncensored news to emerge at a time when reporting by traditional media was severely limited. Shocking Twitter pictures of natural disasters such as the tsunami in Japan or the Colorado wildfires can also be spread instantly to millions by citizen reporters with smart phones.

Time magazine called Twitter the “medium of the movement” for its role in Iranian protests following a suspect election. Twitter has been one of the fastest-growing phenomena on the Internet, in the words of The New York Times. Tweets from Iran emerged as free, unfiltered real-time news items from protesters and witnesses documenting government repression. Although officials could technically cut both Internet connections and the SMS network, never again will a dictator be able to impose a complete information monopoly. Even if some of the information may be unreliable and unverifiable, tweets are the latest means of instant cross-border, globe-spanning communication and a high-speed alternative to traditional mainstream media.111



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