There’s been a lot of discussion about the role of Facebook and Twitter in the Arab spring. All of the discussion is justified. Here in the United States, Facebook and Twitter are thought of as tools that are used by the young to play and have fun. Last week, we saw two examples of how Facebook and Twitter are used. In one instance, they were a way to enhance a Super Bowl. Now you do not have to leave your house to go to a Super Bowl party. Log on and there are hundreds of thousands of people with whom you can share the experience.
On the business side, the Susan G Komen Foundation and Planned Parenthood found out that these new tools can quickly overwhelm your story. With the help of Ari Fleischer, the Susan G Komen Foundation thought that they could cut the legs out from under Planned Parenthood. They never imagined the vicious backlash that is still reverberating today. They are scrambling to try to pick up the pieces. As I mentioned earlier, it is unclear to me whether the Foundation will survive this. Rapidly, the news spread that the Susan G Komen Foundation was defunding Planned Parenthood. Somebody, somewhere, organized the first online petition. People didn’t have to think. People didn’t have to go to a rally. All they had to do was click a button. Shortly, thousands of e-mails were sent to the Foundation. Then, tens of thousands. Soon, within hours, hundreds of thousands of e-mails were sent to the Foundation. At the same time, Planned Parenthood saw the opposite reaction. Donations of $10 and $15 and $20 began pouring into Planned Parenthood. Over a matter of days, over $3 million was raised.
There are some people, sitting in little rooms somewhere, trying to figure out how to use social media for their own gain. I’m sure there are Democratic and Republican operatives trying to figure out how to tap into these instant emotions which can turn into instant dollars.
NPR had a nice story on this yesterday. What are your thoughts on this new social media? Is it going to change America? Because of the instantaneous nature of this media, what are the pitfalls?