Human rights and social media - you've never been so important
It’s an important day for us as we publish our latest annual report – The State of the World’s Human Rights Today.
And it’s not just important for us here. It’s a big day for any of us who, possibly for the first time, felt we could truly get involved as events such as the uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa or the release of Aung San Suu Kyi. As social media went fully mainstream, images and videos that would hardly have been visible to an international audience before were suddenly available to anyone searching minutes after they were uploaded.
We didn’t just have to watch. We were able to show our support on Facebook, Twitter and on our own blogs. As internet outages started in Egypt, Twitter users and bloggers were able to help spread ways the protesters could circumvent blocks on social media sites. The level of interest and visibility across the world meant web giants like Google and Twitter felt they had a mandate to act – creating services such as ‘Speak2Tweet’ as internet outages become full-on blockages. It’s not surprising that Egyptian protester Wael Ghonim called the Egyptian protests “an Internet Revolution” in the Wall Street Journal.
As our report says, we’re standing on the threshold of change as a new generation comes of age and says ‘enough’ to repression and corruption. Social media isn’t leading the protests, but it is being used to outflank and expose governments whilst their leaders are still coming to terms with the power such sites give individuals.
But it is just the threshold of change. In China, artist Ai Weiwei continues to be held by the authorities, who are scared of their own ‘jasmine revolution’. And in Syria, we’ve had reports of over 580 people killed since protests started in mid-March, with army tanks in cities like Dera’a shelling residential areas.
You’ve never been more important in helping change happen. So don’t stop now! We need to keep the pressure up on governments like Syria.
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.