Last week, Yuli Edelstein, an Israeli minister of diplomacy affairs, sent a letter to Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg imploring him to remove the Facebook page ‘Third Palestinian Intifada,’ which called for an uprising in occupied Palestinian territory. The page, created on 6 March, has a staggering 240,000 members.
Indeed, with the help of sites like Facebook and Twitter, the Arab world has been up in arms. An Egyptian recently named his newborn daughter ‘Facebook,’ in honour of the social media platform. And let us not forget YouTube’s crucial role in Iran’s protests in June of 2009.
Who would have guessed when Facebook first launched for university students to share party pictures that seven years later country officials would be writing to Zuckerberg begging him to intervene in order to avoid a mass revolt?
The rise of social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook are arguably the end of tyranny. But while the power of these media channels may come as a surprise to some, this is not the first time we have seen new media channels spurring revolution in history. After all, the printing press and the newspaper were essential catalysts for the French revolution just a few centuries ago.
So how far should these social media companies delve into these political conflicts? Should these media platforms take a stand when the content gets a bit too sensitive? It’s a fine line to walk, but it seems to me that no matter what media platforms do, their fate is inevitably interlinked with politics.