Diffusion of Umbrella Revolution


This weeks topic: Diffusion and Social Influence

Diffusion is the spreading of something more widely and social influence occurs when an individual’s emotions, opinions, or behaviors are affected by others. One immediate case I could relate to this topic is the current demonstration in my country, the Umbrella Revolution in Hong Kong. In short, it is a protest to call for democracy within Hong Kong. Please click on the link below if you wish to gain more information about the starting of this protest: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/30/-sp-hong-kong-umbrella-revolution-pro-democracy-protests

Hong Kong protests

I believe that social media took up a very huge role to diffuse the information regarding the protest globally as it attracted worldwide attention towards the strike. It alerted to worldwide support such as supporting protests in San Francisco, as well as in the Hague, Netherlands. As I am in Rotterdam and am not able to check the HK news frequently, I found out about this protest initially through Facebook. My news feed was spammed with related videos and photos uploaded or shared by my university friends in Hong Kong and as I began to share these videos out on my wall as well, I realized that I am helping to diffuse this information on the network. After 2 hours into the protest, information were broadly available through related hashtags like #OccupyCentral and thousands of photos were already uploaded onto media such as Instagram. Therefore, I was surprised that the diffusion of such big events was faster through social media. For discussion, I would like to ask whether you guys agree that diffusion is faster through social media. Do you think information regarding movements like the Umbrella Revolution should be widely spread across the world through social media? Are there any possibilities that people were misusing the media to communicate an exaggerated version of the event as it is not officially reported by authorities?

In addition, there began the notion of turning Facebook profile picture into the yellow ribbon to show support and this attracted millions of people attention towards the protest within one day. Events were created on Facebook to ask for people’s participation into the movement and friends were tagging each other to join into the protests. Poster designing contest were opened to gain public participation into the notion of the protest. I personally do not think that this is the best method to ask for people’s participation as it might not be the person’s true will to join and could be influenced by friends to join it as they see it on their wall. With social contagion in mind, the umbrella revolution related information on your Facebook could have indirectly affected you to join in the protest. Hence, would you agree that social influence added to the spread of this event as “peer pressure” could have made people more aware of the event? Do you think it is ethical for social media to diffuse the protest information so quickly?

With the above video, it was identified that Twitter and hashtags played a big part in spreading the movement. Do you think that the diffusion of this event would be the same if social media was not used as a primary tool? A live broadcast of the protest situation in Hong Kong could be viewed through the internet, do you think this would have a faster diffusion rate than Facebook?

Just to add to the discussion topic, a phone application called “Firechat” was created in sync with the demonstration. It is an app for connecting people together through Wifi and bluetooth capabilities in order to ensure connection in case of blockage in the public network. Devices connect to other devices, and anyone can become a node in the network with an anonymous screen name. In the first two days of last week, there were 1.5 million tweets with the hashtag #OccupyCentral, but over 2 million FireChat sessions, each lasting an average of two minutes, forty-one seconds. Do you think app like “Firechat” add to the diffusion of information? If yes, how is it possible? Other than the mentioned social media use for the diffusion of Umbrella Revolution in this writing, could you think of any other ways or reveal other ways in which the revolution was diffused?

Last but not least, out of curiosity, how long did it take you to find out about the Umbrella Revolution in Hong Kong, being a student studying in Rotterdam?

Sources

http://www.dw.de/hong-kongs-umbrella-revolution-intensifies-on-social-media/a-17961254

http://betabeat.com/2014/10/firechat-the-app-that-fueled-hong-kongs-umbrella-revolution/

http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1603858/umbrella-revolution-designers-come-logos-occupy-central-protests?page=all

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One thought on “Diffusion of Umbrella Revolution

  1. I think your article brings up a really interesting current issue. Not only about Hong Kong using social media as an output for revolutions, but for countries such as the US, Brazil, Thailand, and countries in the Middle East. All these countries have been using social media as a form of communication in recent events.
    In Hong Kong, Brazil, and Thailand, people are unhappy with the way things are going and want to spread the message so they have used social media and started hash tags. This can be a positive aspect of using social media for this purpose. In this way, people can spread the word faster and may not have to deal with government censorship that can get in the way of the truth (especially like in the case of Hong Kong, where people have heard that the Chinese government is trying to censor the news about the revolution). It only took me about a day after the conflicts began to begin to understand what was happening in Hong Kong because it quickly trended on Twitter, even in the US. It is interesting how powerful social media is because it is not like the traditional press and can travel all over the world in much shorter periods of time, thus creating a greater awareness throughout the world.
    The US has shown both positive and negative sides of using social media for events like these, with one specific example being the case of Mike Brown and the #dontshoot movement. The positive aspect is that the hashtag brings a lot of attention to a current issue that people need to be aware of and to start changing, which is the police violence against people of color. The negative aspect is that it is not always correct information that people are tweeting out. Sometimes, out of anger or miscommunication or misunderstanding, people will spread the wrong message and it will get out of hand. This happens when people don’t necessarily know the truth about what happened in the situation and start spreading rumors despite no investigation being out.
    Also, the Middle East has used social media in the Arab Spring, which has been helpful to organize events but can also be harmful when people use it in the wrong way and organize crime or violent revolts. The current situation in the Middle East has proved that social media has a very strong influence on people and can cause people to join wars and hate other people. So, in this way, spreading news and awareness through social media can become very dangerous. I think this echoes your point about peer pressure and social media and the pressure that happens when people are influenced to join movements simply through their Facebook or Twitter and to get involved in this way and potentially in more involved ways later on.
    I think, to answer your question, that social media is a very powerful, interesting, and ethical tool to use when spreading awareness about what is happening all over the world including news about the revolutions that happen. But also, we must always remember where we get our news from and from whom we get it because if it comes from a dishonest source or one with malicious goals, it is not good for us to become involved in such movements.

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