When social media was on the rise to becoming a force in billions of people’s lives, savvy non-profit organisations were quick to realise its potential benefits, and there are many of them today that use it as well, if not better than some corporations.
There’s been a lot of talk lately about politics and social media. Some have seen Facebook, Twitter and the like as champions of empowerment; others, more recently, as vehicles for hate. I’d suggest they’re both and more; that their impact’s messy; and that it’s changing and will continue to do so. Some thoughts, then, about what’s happening and what we need to know.
Phase one: Insurgency (or not)
The Democratic Alliance (DA) has described the march to the house of the Minister of Education in the Western Cape, Debbie Schäfer, by a group of Equal Education protestors as a dangerous move.
DA leader, Mmusi Maimane, took to Twitter to condemn the protest outside Schäfer’s house.
Former DA leader, Helen Zille, also went on Twitter to condemn the education movement, saying the movement only exacerbated education problems in the province.
Former president Thabo Mbeki’s letters aiming to tackle ‘historical distortions and falsehoods’ during his time in office generated 8.5 million hits across the Thabo Mbeki Foundation’s social media platforms‚ says its chief executive officer, Max Boqwana.
Boqwana points out that, “These reflect people who viewed the articles‚ shared and commented on them‚” adding that, “We have also received hundreds direct feedback through emails‚ letters‚ calls and direct conversations.”
The Department of Communications says through the use of social media government is able to interact with citizens even in the deep rural areas.
The Director of Social Media at the Department of Communication, Aslam Levy, says social media is easily accessible, affordable and also gives the public the opportunity to respond and voice their concerns.
Media Institute of South Africa (MISA) has partnered with the Swaziland Youth Empowerment Organisation (LUVATSI) to launch its study on youth usage of social media, which focuses on the benefits and disadvantages of the use of social media by young people.
According to Vuyisile Hlatshwayo, national director for MISA Swaziland, social media is an important source of information for young people that gives them greater freedom to express themselves.
The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) urged the public to use social networking sites responsibly.
The call came after the commission resolved a case involving, Ziyaad Kayat, who made anti-semitic statements.
In a message sent to the South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) Facebook page, Kayat, stated that, "All Jews are pigs and I think we should kill you SA Jews and kill your kids and let you feel what the Palestinians are feeling."
The director of Highway Africa, Chris Kwabato, says he is pleased that the conference is showing signs of growth since it started 18 years ago.
The annual conference, which is hosted by the Rhodes school of journalism and media studies, ends today (8 September 2014) in Grahamstown with more than 500 delegates from across the African Continent attending.
Kwabato says impact of social media on journalism is part of the theme this year, adding that the conference has also attracted delegates from beyond the continent.
A government official has announced that Zimbabwe is crafting cyber laws to regulate activities on social media in order to protect its citizens and the state from cybercrimes.
Speaking to the parliamentary portfolio committee on Information Communication Technology, Cecilia Nyamutswa, Postal and Telecommunication Authority of Zimbabwe’s director for legal services, stated that that draft bills were ready and would soon be transmitted to the Attorney-General's office for legal direction and finalisation.
Facebook is launching a mobile application to give users in Zambia free access to a handful of online services on mobile phones, to broaden an effort of boosting Internet usage in underdeveloped countries.
In partnership with wireless operator Airtel, the Internet.org application will offer more than a dozen services including online encyclopaedia Wikipedia, websites devoted to weather, job listings and health information, as well as Facebook's own social network and messaging service.