August 2017

Power of social network: capable of the best and the worst?

By: Anne Louise Michel
Projects Abroad Volunteer


Photo: from Pixabay

The easier internet access is, the more we can observe decline of traditional media. According to the United Nations, Facebook, GSMA Intelligence and Internet World stats, in January 2017, only half of the global population had an access on the Internet. 4.9 billion persons have a cell phone and among them, 2. 5 billion have a cell phone with an immediate access on the Internet site. The goal is to communicate faster and faster.

Internet seemed to be the perfect tool that responds to this goal. Everybody can use it and everybody can share and diffuse what they want. The point is, everybody is free and nobody seemed to have the ability to impose rules. Users on the internet are the only ones who chose what is important to diffuse. The phenomenon of viral video, hashtag or challenge is exactly the reflect of this desire.

Over 200,000 videos are posted on YouTube daily, and 200,000,000 videos are seen on You Tube every day. Of course, all of them do not become viral.

The content of viral videos keep a certain mystery. Actually, despite researching, nobody is able to find a definition of "viral": We can say that the word "viral" is used to qualify a video, a hashtag, or a photo that generate a keen interest. This implies that the diffusion is only made by the users of social media on the Internet. Everything seen is a matter of good timing; there is no magic solution to make something become viral. For example, on Facebook, a video that went viral was about a trick for cleaning and organizing your home (10 million views). At the beginning, a video became viral despite it. Then, user of social media tried to use this tool to their advantage.

Because of that, the rules of the game changed. Some users want to attract a big audience. The content of viral video became consequently sensational or choking. Moreover, the video could be staged or simply fake. Worst, most of the time it is inappropriate for the audience who watches this kind of video.

For example, a 13-year-old girl committed suicide, after her dad shared publicly a shameful video. This viral video, which recorded 4 million views, highlights the power of social media. As an example, Isabelle Laxamana, has long black hair and her father cuts her hair, as a punishment because he finds suggestive photos of Isabelle with a boy on the Internet.

Another video, completely different, shows how the Internet can be used by a person. On this video, Brenden Clark wants to show the impact of drug addiction on his own family. To this end, Brenden recorded a video where he explains to his son, that the boy's mother died of overdose. According to him, the goal of this video is for prevention, and he affirms to have the authorization of his son to share the video. BUT we can objectively say that this video shows the misery of this little boy more than the video explaining consequences of drugs addiction. The appearance of this kind of video stays possible because the principal social network can only delete this video after its diffusion.

VIRAL CHALLENGE: If your friend jumps of the bridge, would you? (Who has ever heard that from his mother's mouth?)


Design: by Ximenia Noya

In the dictionary, the definition of a challenge is simple. It is something new and difficult which requires great effort and determination. So, normally a challenge is something great for yourself, which gives you a satisfactory experience. Jocelyn Antezana (23 years old) confessed: "I admit, I have already done some challenges, like the ICE bucket challenge and the one that consists to eat a pepper. I don't feel influenced by social network. In my opinion, the goal is to recreate and have fun. It is only my close-friends that challenge me."Unhappily, all the challenges are not very well received. We can observe the same Internet phenomenon from viral challenges. A lot of challenges have a connection with the body, a fake perfect representation of the body.

For example: A4 waist challenge (women compare the size of their waist to the width of standard A4 paper), Thigh gab challenge (your legs are so skinny, they don't touch each other), the belly button challenge (the goal is to touch your belly button with your arm behind your back), etc. Ruth Jimenez Nina (24 years old) remembers "there was a polemic about Miss Cochabamba in May, who was criticized on the Internet.

If I remember well, after a photo shoot in swimming suits, people criticized a lot the figure of the candidates. The comments on the Internet were picked up by a journalist, and it was only at this point that the people realized that was offensive." Of course, the most dangerous ones are the challenges putting a life in immediate danger. The most scandalous, the blue whale challenge was a series of tasks assigned to players by an administrator during a 50-days period. The final "task" was to commit suicide!

The majority of the time, this particularly challenge affects children or teenagers who are more vulnerable because they are in a world brimming with emotional conflict.

The majority of the time, this phenomenon particularly affects children or teenagers who are more vulnerable because they are in a world brimming with emotional, psychological, physical and moral conflict. It is why, it is necessary to do some prevention.

THE IMPORTANCE OF THE AWARENESS:

In 2015, the Bolivian's government, the telephone company TIGO and UNICEF embarked on a national campaign against digital violence. During the seminar of The Protection of Children and Adolescents Online, in cooperation with TIGO and UNICEF; Luis Felipe Guzmán, the director of ATT (Autoridad de Regulación de Fiscalización de Telecomunicaciones y Transportes), in April 2015 concluded his speech by saying that: "Internet is free, it is the best invention of the 21st century and we have to protect our children and adolescents from the unscrupulous people who contaminate social network".

In parallel, the same year, a project of law is launched by the government to promote the protection of children and adolescents against digital violence. The first vice-president of the chamber of senators, Nélida Sifuentes announced this law would contain three parts: First, the government wants a national analysis. Second, it wants a collective redaction of technical recommendation. Finally, create a law that will be approved.

The educational community is not prepared or qualified to talk about digital violence in schools

Moreover, Miriam Cristina Rojas, the person in charge of the program called ENREDOMINO (Construcción de la Ciudadanía en Sociedad de la Información) indicated in a statement "Prevention of digital violence in schools alarming figures:In 2012, according to a study on 1,121 school boys, 10 students out of 10 have already seen videos of fights between Bolivian teenagers on the Internet or on their own phone." The study explains that no Internet Café uses a security program to protect children and adolescents who use their computers. More important, in this statement, approved by the Bolivian ministry of education, it is claimed that the educational community is not prepared or qualified to talk about digital violence in schools.

The government seems to be aware of the digital problem, which affects the new generation. However, it is still difficult to find an application of this project in the Bolivian's schools. Practically the majority of the Bolivian people interviewed, admit that they never received awareness from school or by their own parents or family.

SOME GOOD INITIATIVES IN ALL THIS CAOS

Of course, there are not only terrible consequences to viral videos, challenges or hashtags. Happily, and this is why Internet was created, Internet can be used as a real and great way to communicate.

The ICE Bucket Challenge also called ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is an activity involving the dumping of a bucket of water over a person's head, to promote awareness of amyotrophic disease. The challenge encourages nominated participants to be filmed having a bucket of ice water poured over their heads and then nominating others to do the same. Nominated participants have 24 hours to comply or forfeit by way of a charitable financial donation. In the United States of America, the Ice Bucket Challenge allowed to collection of 115 million of dollars.

In another category, the Green Whale Challenge or the Red Whale Challenge has been created in response to the Blue Whale Challenge. It is exactly the opposite of the Blue Whale Challenge. These challenges represent the positive power of social media. The Green Whale Challenge puts the accents on the environment and some good attitudes that help save the planet. The Red Whale Challenge gives some good actions of every day like "write on your hand I'm beautiful", "smile at yourself in the mirror" or "wake up early to watch the sunrise"

We could also mention the power of hashtags. For example in Europe, during the terrorist attack, "hashtag" was created to support the victims: "Pray for Paris" or "Pray for Brussels". With the same idea, Facebook created a kind of application that let you say "I am sound and safe" if you are located in the place where there was an attack. Users could share that on their Facebook wall and to assure their members of their community Facebook that they were OK.

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