China and its uprising social media revolution

Posted on 19th Jul 2012 by Katy Cowan in Blog

It was so interesting to hear on BBC Radio4 this morning about China and its ongoing social media revolution. According to the news report, more than 300 million people are now signed up to Sina Weibo, China's own version of Twitter.

The service - which continues to attract more fans every day - is being heralded as a 'new wave of self expression' in a society where self expression has traditionally been dangerous and unwelcome.

Apparently, the social network is helping people to form groups and come together all over China. It's encouraging civil society to flourish and is sparking a whole revolution on the way people communicate over there.

Of course, this isn't the first time we've seen social media and its impact on certain cultures. It literally changes things overnight by bringing about increased freedom of speech as well as sparking uprisings all over the globe.

It's therefore no surprise that the Chinese government is still fighting it. According to the BBC, they regularly release a list of banned keywords to companies like Weibo, for example 'Hong Kong March' has been banned after protests there. And if it's included in a post, it'll also be deleted.

But that hasn't stopped people from speaking their minds. They'll avoid the banned keywords and instead use puns and cartoons to challenge the powers that be and their keyword system.

Make no mistake, China is changing thanks to the ever-growing power of social media, which is turning cultures upside down. It's changing the system in a way that governments are no longer the ones who hold all the playing cards - it's the people, in their powerful numbers, who are making their voices heard. And the positive outcome of that is freedom of speech, people power and democracy.

We've seen the Middle East and its uprisings in recent years. We've seen how people who share a passion can make political and social changes, simply by coming together through an online social network.

Now it's happening elsewhere. We will look back on this moment in history as the 'digital revolution' and how it brought the world together, changed the way we communicated, transformed cultures and allowed small businesses to flourish and go global.

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