The Effects of Social Media on Political Movements

I have learnt many things about the influences of social media on people in society from several viewpoints such as politics, law and the market thorough this course.

I am especially interested in the relationship between political engagement and the use of social media. While it is often said that social media has played a crucial role in political activism, to what extent does social media actually have an impact on political engagement?

Since I am from Japan, I would like to pick one of the examples of the current political movements of youths in Japan: SEALDs, Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy. The mass media often argues that one of the reasons for the success of SEALDs’ movement is the power of social media. Here are some quotes:

The use of social media tools by organizers has helped spread word of the growing opposition to the security legislation among students and eventually to housewives and other individuals around Japan (Goto et al., 2015).

So what does SEALDs tell us about contemporary Japan? Certainly the students challenge the prevailing negative stereotype that youth today are politically apathetic, disengaged and happily retreating into a virtual world. The members of SEALDs are a small vanguard that tap into social networks to amplify their influence and mobilize sympathizers to join in demonstrations (Kingston, 2015).

In May, the Students Emergency Action for Liberal Democracy (SEALDs) was formed and has grown rapidly… What separates today’s protests from the ones in the past is the role of social media. People of all ages are now using Twitter and Facebook to organize and share information (Ripley et al., 2015).

…grass-roots movements among typically apolitical groups such as mothers and students — aided by social media — appear to be growing (Yamaguchi, 2015). 

I am always wondering why the media tends to focus on the power of social media and how much social media can have an influence on political engagement in reality. According to Gladwell (2010), social media sites are constructed of weak ties. If it occurs, to what extent does social media really have an influence on political involvement such as SEALDs? Why did the term such as the Twitter Revolution appear as an explanation of the movement in Moldova in 2009 even if there was a few twitter accounts (Gladwell, 2010)?

Although the impacts of social media on society cannot be ignored in terms of both its positive and negative sides, why are some possible other factors sometimes hidden or unforgettable to some extent? I personally think it is important to deliberate on several factors of events by using not only one’s experiences but also logical reasons. How much evidence and responsibility are there when the media discusses the relationship between political participation and social media use? What is missing or who is missing from factors when we think about the effects of social media and why?


  1. Gladwell, M. (2010). Small Change: why the revolution will not be tweeted. The New Yorker, 4 October. Available from [Accessed 22 March 2016].
  2. Goto, R., Iki, M., and Ichikawa, M. (2015). Mothers, students, others march against security legislation as SNS unites opposition. The Asahi Shimbun, 27 July. Available from [Accessed 22 March 2016].
  3. Kingston, J. (2015). Students oppose Abe’s assault on the Constitution. The Japan Times, 5 September. Available from [Accessed 22 March 2016].
  4. Ripley, W., CNN, and Yamamitsu, E. (2015). Assertive Japan poised to abandon 70 years of pacifism. CNN, 16 September. Available from [Accessed 22 March 2016].
  5. SEALDs (2015). Statement. SEALDs Eng. Available from [Accessed 22 March 2016].
  6. Yamaguchi, M. (2015). Mothers, students join Japan’s protests over security bills. The Associated Press, 31 Aug. Available from [Accessed 22 March 2016].

Fuller House


Fuller House, which is an American comedy programme, is the one of the examples that you cannot access the content unless you sign up Netflix.

If the content were shared under a Creative Commons licence, it would be at least downloaded or shared with someone with creators’ credit (Creative Commons, no date). If it were under the attribution licence, which is “the most accommodating” licence according to Creative Commons (no date), it would “distribute, remix, tweak, and build upon” creators’ works with creators’ credit for both commercial and non-commercial purposes.

First of all, some people who just want to see Fuller House would cancel the contracts even if the content were under “the most restrictive” licence, namely Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs licence because they might see it for free. This might cause financial damage to Netflix to some extent. However, I personally think once people start to watch films and shows on Netflix, they would encounter many interesting contents, so I do not think “the most restrictive” license would cause a great deal of financial damage to Netflix.

Secondly, it might be difficult for original creators to know who uses their contents and gets the profits from them under some Creative Commons licences, including “the most accommodating licence (Fabio, 2009).  Although Creative Commons prohibits “harming others (Creative Commons, 2014),” those licences might allow someone to create unpleasant contents from the original works without realising.

To sum up, if Fuller House were under a Creative Commons licence, some people would cancel Netflix accounts but this might not make major influence on Netflix financially. In addition, there is a possibility that some disagreeable works are recreated under the licence.




Too Nervous About Online Visibility?

I use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and so on.

I share my name, occupation and gender to the public on Facebook. Only my friends can see my posts, friends’ list and the public information. Both Instagram and Twitter are protected and there are no followers, which means no one can see my information. They are currently used for not transmitting the information or interacting with people but gaining my favourite information more quickly.

The reason for my privacy settings on those social networking sites is simple: I do not like to share my personal information with someone whom I do not know. If a person does not know me, he or she might not find my information online. However, I am uncomfortable with releasing the information even if it is not found or misused by someone. For me, leaving the information online is like putting photo of me in the middle of a street, which would give me feelings of anxiety and shame.

Moreover, I would be quite upset if my friends upload pictures of me on SNSs without asking even though the images are visible to “friends.” First of all, even if those friends are my friends’ friends, they might not my friends. Secondly, I cannot see the point of sharing those images with others even though my friends and I probably have a good time offline.

I sometimes feel that I am obsessed with my online invisibility but I am happy to choose such invisibility on SNSs at the moment.

Oxfam communities

I think Oxfam communities could be a positive example of an online community because they might help to gather more volunteers who are needed for Oxfam events and share information about the events.

For example, if someone needs volunteers, he or she posts information such as an outline of an event, and then people who are interested in the event write a comment on a thread. Original posters can find volunteers whom the posters might not met in their real lives. This might be one of the benefits of the communities because the original posters could receive wider support. In addition, there is a post such as “Send a message of support to our staff.” This blog aimed to receive a comment to the Oxfam staff who dedicated themselves to“Birth in Safe Hands Project” in Ghana. As a result, 242 comments were written on the blog. By sharing the information and adding comments on the thread online, the Oxfam staff and supporters could foster positive relationship between them, which might be another benefit.

However, it might be challenging to spread information beyond the online communities because they have not adopted the system like Facebook like button. On Facebook, even if you are not interested in events or information, there is a possibility to see them because of “like” of your friends. On the other hand, it might be difficult to know information about Oxfam communities unless you are part of the communities.


Oxfam (no date). Home. Oxfam Communities. Available from [Accessed 29 February 2016].


I think Wikipedia provides the contents that have been created by the audience.

Needless to say, the audience can write and edit each article on Wikipedia while it is possible for them only to read the articles. According to Wikipedia (2016), there are 38 million articles in more than 250 languages. In addition, 27,556,750 registered editors and 133,339 active editors are said to exist in the English Wikipedia (ibid.).

It is obvious to say that the audience is vital for maintaining Wikipedia because the contents are edited by the audience. Especially, the active editors have played an important role to update the information. While it is generally accepted that the information of Wikipedia is not always reliable, there are 500 million unique visitors to Wikipedia every month (Cohen, 2014), so the editors of Wikipedia have enormous implication for a large audience. In addition, “an article is not considered to be owned by its creator or any other editor and is not vetted by any recognized authority (Wikipedia, 2016).” This means even if the editors are essential for Wikipedia, they are not privileged under its policies.

Since 2001, Wikipedia has provided encyclopedic knowledge. From the beginning, the audience has greatly participated in creating the contents.


  1. Cohen, N. (2014). Wikipedia vs. the Small Screen. The New York Times, 9 February. Available from [Accessed 22 February 2016].
  2. Wikipedia (2016). Wikipedia. Wikipedia. Available from [Accessed 22 February 2016].

NHK WORLD: media convergence in Japan

NHK WORLD - media convergence

NHK WORLD is the one of the examples of media convergence that I would like to introduce. NHK is the public broadcaster in Japan and NHK WORLD has integrated its television and radio shows which provide both Japanese and international contents ranging from news to cultural programmes since 2009. When the earthquake struck northeastern Japan in 2011, NHK WORLD delivered the live news to the world, which was “used by various broadcasting stations, until official feeds on NHK WORLD TV were distributed” (NHK WORLD, 2015).

Because of the convergence, both domestic and international users are able to access the TV and radio contents of NHK WORLD whenever they want or wherever they are. Considering the earthquake case above, it could be said that NHK WORLD played an important role to provide the world with information about the earthquake. Due to the convergence, the users and international broadcasters could gain information more quickly. In addition, according to NHK WORLD (2015), there were 5.4 million people who watched the streaming programmes for 4 days from the day of the earthquake via the iPhone application. This figure could show the media convergence have a major influence on the users.

To sum up, NHK WORLD, which I share for this week’s topic, examples of media convergence, influences not only users but also other broadcasters worldwide, judging from the earthquake case in 2011.


‘A Magna Carta for the web’


A Magna Carta for the web

Do you know anything about ‘A Magna Carta for the web’? The online source that I would like to share with you is the 6.5-minute Ted talk that was given by Tim Barners-Lee. Needless to say, he is the inventor of the World Wide Web. When it marked the 25th anniversary in 2014, he gave us an opportunity to think about the future development of the web thorough this TED talk.

When we learn about the web or use it on a daily basis, we often face its negative side such as invasion of privacy and a filter bubble. At the same time, we would notice that the web could be a democratic platform in the world. Personally, I believe it is important to know the limit of the present web and consider the principle of the web: a Magna Carta for the web in the future through learning network society and the media.

This video would not provide an answer to what a future Magna Carta for the web should look like. However, it would remind you the importance of thinking independently about ‘our’ future vision of the web.

*Because the video is very short, I would recommend seeing those videos and the web site below for considering ‘a Magna Carta for the web’ from various points of view.

  1. Pariser, E. (2011). Beware online “filter bubbles”. TED.
  2. Snowden, E. (2014). Here’s how we take back the Internet. TED.
  3. The World Wide Web Consortium and the World Wide Web Foundation (2014).