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Students discuss social media usage

6 May 2012 By Allison Brickell, Staff Writer No Comments
Topic of New York Times talk focuses on the pros and cons of online activism
Jazmine Johnson/ The Towerlight

Jazmine Johnson/ The Towerlight

Social media activism is something that is spreading fast and is still new to many people, according to Bill Tsitsos, assistant professor in the department of sociology.

A prime example of this is Invisible Children and the Kony 2012 campaign. Tsitsos said that the organization has been causing controversy with its 30-minute viral video campaign.

The video was a simple tactic meant to bring attention to and action against the now well-known warlord Joseph Kony.

“This is a new way of thinking about social media that people still haven’t got their head around [it],” he said.

This was the topic discussed at the New York Times Talk Wednesday.

Tsitsos led students and professors in a debate of the pros, cons and nuances of social media and the increasing importance of online activism.

Reference Librarian Shannon Simpson said social media often limits people’s exposure to different points of view. She said that sites like Google and Facebook narrow user content based on what users search for most.

“There’s no way to turn that off,” she said. “I would love to see everything as opposed to getting everything filtered.”

Newman said she teaches her students to be aware of other perspectives.

“I always tell my students just because you found it on the web doesn’t mean it’s the whole story,” she said. “I always go to various sites to get a different perspective, even if it makes me angry or I disagree”.

Tsitsos said that like the Kony video, social media could be used as strategic tools for activism.

“It’s using online tools to enable or empower people to better their situation,” he said. “At the same time, the rapidity of spreading information online sometimes makes for more problems. It’d be so much easier if it was like Rambo, and we just sent in one guy to kill the whole army and shoot the bad guy, but we don’t.”

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