During the Arab spring, North African students challenged rulers who seemed not to want to listen, and there were serious disconnects between government and social media users. Do you remember when the Tunisian and Egyptian governments shut down whole networks? There surely has to be a better way to manage technology than that. Two pieces of news emerged today that I find thought provoking.
The China government and social media seem to have declared a truce. This is a great improvement from yesterday when the China internet went down for a mysterious reason. The People’s Liberation Army Navy has established a presence on people.com and gained an impressive following after making just a few posts. I welcome their remark that they want to open two-way communication. Provided people trust their government and social media partnership, then this initiative predicted by President Xi Jinping last year has a chance of sticking.
Government and Social Media Connect in Nepal
I wish I could be more positive about Nepal. The death rate from the earthquake passed the 5,000 point as I was writing this. People are still stranded in remote villages or trapped beneath concrete beams. The government has called the army out but a storm has grounded helicopter support. This means no more precious supply drops for now.
In the midst of this mess Nepal government and social media are finding ways to work together despite the fact that many internet connections are damaged. Where others still work information is available through sites like facebook and twitter, and government and citizens can share news and offer advice. This is a powerful step forward towards harnessing the internet of things for public good.
This assistance is also helpful for people from overseas trapped in Nepal in the aftershock of the earthquake, especially where there are no army radios. Governments should stop holding social pages at arm’s length because they fear criticism. Post-Nepal, government and social media have a new responsibility to work towards the common destiny.
Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerbarg has responded by rolling out his new app Safety Check that helps confirm the status of a user’s Facebook friends, while Google has responded by bringing back its discontinued Person Finder to confirm that loved ones are okay, and where they are.
Not all remote Nepal villages had internet connections. At the time of the disaster overall internet usage was hovering around 25%. The government and social media should connect with Google Loon for it has potential to host satellite connections from balloons.