The Power of Social Media

Much has been written by me, and others on the power of social media. Frankly, if you’ve never read about the power of social media to connect people, share stories, and reach consumers, you probably haven’t been reading a whole lot of blog posts.

But most of what gets written about social media is good. It’s the positive connections the medium brings us. But just as important are those negative things that come with this new communication channel, the ease and the speed with which those communications are passed, and the general availability to all people.

We hear about athletes who get in trouble for posting something they shouldn’t, the politician who’s caught with his pants down, etc. But this week, a new story is dominating the news, and it highlights the negative power of social media.

A filmmaker whose real name is still not fully known released a 14 minute trailer for an anti-Islam film on YouTube. And while it took some time for the clip to get attention, it has. And it has the majority of the Muslim world up in arms, leading to attacks on US Embassies abroad and the death of the US Ambassador to Libya.

It doesn’t matter that this video does not reflect the views of most Americans, much less the US government. But an ordinary citizen with a hateful view of the world has as much ability as anyone else to get his message out via YouTube. And as a country, we must now face the consequences.

Do I think social media is evil? Of course not. Do I think the violent reaction to this video is uncalled for? I do. But I also think that one person’s hate is responsible in part for the death of Americans, and that is something we can’t change.