With the latest Florida mass shooting I, like most of you, have witnessed the outcry and response to this act of gun violence on social media.
My post today is based on the following article: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2018/feb/21/florida-students-have-turned-social-media-into-a-weapon-for-good
The article states that the Florida students have turned social media into a weapon for good. They are using social media to spread the word on the need to end gun violence and to have stricter gun laws. Social media was even hailed as providing the trapped students the tool to warn others in the school about the shooter during the tragic event and to call for help from the outside world when emergency phone operators were unable to take their calls.
However, on the other hand there are those that argue that in reality social media is not an effective tool to combat gun violence because it leads people to share what has happened without actually doing anything about it. It is even argued that social media makes people believe they are making an effort because they are discussing what is happening and making posts for change but again are not actually making any change.
In addition, in this same article there is a question of whether social media can do more harm then good for there are rumors being spread that the Florida student activists are just paid actors. Also, soon after the shooting pro- Russian gun bots flooded twitter , the bots are able to respond quickly to breaking news because they’re ultimately controlled by humans and or the bots jump on existing hashtags to take control of the conversation and amplify a message. These pro gun groups are spreading misinformation about the shooter such as making him seem related to Islamic extremist groups or a local white nationalist group. Research displayed that twitter also had an increase in similar postings after other mass shootings in the US such as the Las Vegas shooting last year.
This issue of social media or even just the Internet’s ability to manipulate the truth has been a repeated topic this semester. However, the article leaves us with this thought:
“Whether the Stoneman students will be able to maintain their authentic voices amid social media’s crisis of authenticity remains an open question. But for now, they have taken full advantage of the democratic nature of social media to push our democracy forward.”
For more information about the pro-gun bots : https://www.wired.com/story/pro-gun-russian-bots-flood-twitter-after-parkland-shooting/