The power of social media – we can help people

Nowadays nobody can deny the power of social media. Thanks to them people are in power when talking about social movements, advertising and delivering all kinds of information. We do have among all others a well informed and involved audience that can make a difference by reaching and developing new points of view.

Last month when visiting Brussels as participant in the European Youth Media Days I conducted an interview with Kristalina Georgieva, European Commissioner for International Cooperation, Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Response who made the impression of a really straightforward and intelligent person. We talked about variety of topics including nowadays euroscepticism and the importance of social media.

Social media are getting more and more important, agreed Georgieva. What they bring is more democracy in information and more inclusiveness – people don’t have to be physically in a place to have their voice heard, explained the Commissioner.

And it also stimulates initiative – if you believe in a cause you can drive change by raising awareness of this cause and bringing like-minded to support you, emphasized Georgieva.

She also underlined another positive feature of social media. In her opinion social media can help policy makers to have a more open horizon, see parts of the world that might not otherwise be seen and allow a much faster feedback on ideas then before.

Social media certainly are offering a new avenue for politicians to be accountable for what they do and to inform the public in a very accessible and non-bureaucratic manner, said Georgieva. The Commissioner gave an example with Twitter where the microblog with only 140 characters imposes discipline that in traditional journalism and policy communication doesn’t exist.

Moreover, social media have proven to be very useful when gathering people and informing about natural disasters. A recent example in Twitter is the news about the typhoon that hit the Philippines; the donations and the voluntary work there. Twitter once again became not only a source of information but also of involvement. Furthermore, using another online platform – OpenStreetMap, a collaboratively created map of the world like Wikipedia, more than 700 volunteers have collaborated to provide rescue workers with updated maps to reflect damage from the storm, the Guardian reported.

In my line of work new technology is incredibly important because we can use Twitter to award population at risk. We also use SMS to target those who are in a particular area of danger if a natural disaster is approaching – for example flood or hurricane. That is already proving to be a very effective way of signaling, said Commissioner Georgieva.  In her opinion thanks to the social media we get not only information but a new way of doing business as well as humanitarian and rescue operations.