The last decade showed how social media could topple governments and make social change — and it’s only getting crazier from here

The last decade showed how social media could topple governments and make social change — and it's only getting crazier from here
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Protesters chant during Arab Spring protests in the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, in May 2011. Flickr/Sallam The Arab Spring kicked off a decade in which technology and social media would play a key role in powering social movements and bringing about lasting change. Facebook and Twitter would help topple strongmen leaders in the Middle East , broadcast issues like election fraud in Russia , and bring issues like police brutality, racism and sexual harassment to the forefront of national conversation. But it also spun out of control in the 2010s. Facebook and Twitter were used to broadcast propaganda , distribute misinformation , inspire deadly campaigns through hate speech , and disrupt elections. Social media may continue to be a key part of our lives, but its users must wrestle with a host of problems in the new decade, like misinformation and government surveillance. Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories. Few people at the beginning of the last decade had any idea what a powerful political machine platforms like Facebook and Twitter would shape up to be — including , it often seems, Facebook’s own CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The 2010s were the decade that online activism "went mainstream," said Athina Karatzogianni, a media and communications professor at the University of Leicester. For one thing, the speed at which information was able to spread "allowed protest networks and other resistant movements to have spectacular spillover effects," Karatzogianni said. Its effects "were obvious with WikiLeaks, the Arab Spring uprisings, the Occupy movement, […]

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