The Power of the Platforms
Social media jumps the barriers of geography and culture, allowing people to connect, interact, and share on a global scale. People who never would have had an opportunity to meet in real life are now connected.
Megan O’Neill, online video expert and writer, points out the power with not only YouTube but also its connections to other social networking platforms.9 She says the real power of YouTube was revealed in the Spring of 2009, when Neda Agha-Soltan, a young Iranian woman, was killed during the Iranian election protests.
A video of Neda’s death, shot on a mobile phone, was uploaded to YouTube and spread around the web in hours (see Figure 3.1). O’Neill points out that Jared Cohen from the U.S. Department of State called the video “the world’s most successful viral video. Someone who captured this video on their call phone was able to get that video in the hands of presidents and prime ministers and kings and influential leaders around the world in a matter of moments.”
Figure 3.1. A graphic video showing the killing of an Iranian woman, Neda Agha-Soltan, was filmed and then uploaded to YouTube. Her death became a rallying cry for protesters.
The visual proof of what was happening in Iran, uploaded to YouTube and spread to the world via sites like Twitter and Facebook, inspired people around the globe to spring into action. O’Neill says that since the death of Neda Agha-Soltan, YouTube has become a hub for citizen journalists to share video footage of what is going on around the globe, from the people who are actually experiencing it. YouTube footage has allowed us to see in greater detail than ever before the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, reactions to the death of Osama bin Laden, the Arab Spring, and much, much more.