Mon. Dec 5th, 2022

Social networks such as Twitter and Facebook have led to social movements like “#HandsUpDontShoot” and “#BlackLivesMatter.” These sayings are being posted and tweeted by millions of social network users today, and within the past few years as well.

These tweets and posts symbolize something greater than just a few characters typed on a user’s cell phone — a movement that will change the world forever.

Social networks have become the primary source for news for many people today and have enough power to start a movement worldwide.

The Ferguson case, Michael Brown’s death, is one of the events that caused social networks to blow up in terms of news coverage.

As a young African-American male, I wonder if things would be the same without social networks. I remember my first time seeing pictures and videos of Michael Brown’s body all over Twitter and watching national news networks such as CNN cover his case.

Even the reporters were referencing sources from Twitter for the images and videos they have shown. If witnesses did not capture videos and images on their smartphone, would we ever know about Michael Brown?
Police brutality has become a crucial target of media and social protests in recent years and today as well. To many people, police brutality may be new to their list of problems in this country, but it has been going on for years since the Civil Rights Movement.

The difference with today is that people actually witness friends and strangers being illegally harassed by police officers through social media. I check social media every day and I watch at least three to four videos a week of police mistreating people.

Thanks to being “citizens” of this country and having “rights,” people use their cell phones to record the police mistreating other people, or themselves after being pulled over.

The first thing people do after capturing videos and images on their phone to post or tweet the videos or images to spread awareness for what they have witnessed.

It can take an hour or less for somebody’s tweet to go viral, then thousands of people around the nation witness whatever that person has tweeted. The same tweet could be mentioned during the local news broadcast that evening.

Today, national and local news networks have used social networks for their primary references for videos and images they may show to the public. Reporters have often quoted somebody’s tweet before showing their audience a video for whatever is pertaining to the news story.

Most news companies such as CNN, Fox News, ABC and more all have accounts on social media. Many people do not have to read a newspaper or watch the news anymore to find out what’s happening in today’s society.

These companies could also be on social media now in order to stay fresh and keep up with today’s movements, such as Black Lives Matter.

Take a minute and think of this: would the Black Lives Matter movement exist if social media did not?

I believe social media has brought people together from all over the world because of the way certain images have the power to gravitate people and bring them together.

In the past, there have been many protests and, unfortunately, riots for racial equality, but no movement could compare to the Civil Rights Movement. Social media allows social groups to spread a message locally or globally with just a few tweets to gain the attention of millions of people.

Honestly, I would have little knowledge on cases such as Ferguson if I was not a consistent user of social media.

I have first hand experience with police brutality and being treated unfairly because of my skin color, but somebody of a different race or gender may not.

Social media has allowed people of all color to witness events such as Ferguson and allowed them to form their own thoughts on whether or not police brutality is real or not.

News stories have become more authentic and gaining in human interest because of their use of social media.

The reporter reading off of a teleprompter and presenting news has been an everyday thing for years. When your local news channel broadcasts a video from Twitter of a police officer shooting an unarmed African-American, you will freeze and watch that broadcast.

The difference between hearing and seeing a news story increases the importance and validity of the story. I might have heard about the shooting, but once I actually witnessed this malicious act on social media, the world around me stopped.

Social media as the source for news has had a positive and a negative impact on this nation in recent years. The Black Lives Matter movement has grown globally because of social media, but many people use social media to discriminate and hate as well.

Everybody becomes a journalist on social media after another video of police brutality is released.

People tweeting in defense of the police officer, or in defense of the victim, and former friends from high school may clash into arguments on Facebook or Twitter on what’s right or wrong.

No matter what side you are on, you are still using social media as your news source, and you begin tweeting and posting your thoughts about whatever you have witnessed.

Anybody who owns a smartphone can be a reporter because they can just record a crime or act of police brutality with their smartphone at any time. Images and videos captured from smartphones have arguably started the Black Lives Matter movement, and they continue to contribute to news stories.

Juian Keys is a fourth-year student majoring in English with a minor in journalism. They can be reached at JK764538@wcupa.edu

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