The Internet and Social Networks – Good and Bad

So Egypt decided to shutdown the internet. Apparently they have some type of kill switch.

But could it happen here? How has Web 2.0 affected our lives, politics, humanity?

Apparently, the there is kill-switch legislation before congress. This legislation would empower the president to pull the plug during ‘national emergency’. What is the first rule when taking over a country – either invasion or upheaval? Take over communications! That is why the founding fathers made press a 1st amendment right! This is not a republican / democrat issue. In fact, the proposal comes from Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine).

In fairness, the US condemned Egypt’s action in a tweet. How poetic! But Twitter has been front and center to politics and natural disasters before. Just as news from Egypt began flowing through tweets, much of Haiti’s earthquake news and information was tweeted last year.

But good is not the only result of the new social media. High school linebacker C. J. Johnson quit Facebook after much bad press resulted. 13 year old Hope Witsell committed suicide because of social media (originating from Sexting).

Studies are mixed whether Facebook and MySpace are positive or negative in relationships. Some studies say positive. But there is a growing backlash – possibly the most serious accusation being the impact on marriage.

What of blogging (for example, this blog)? Within the business / commercial community, blogging has many positive benefits. There are negatives to blogging – mostly the constant maintenance required.

Politics has been permanently changed by the social media. Candidate Obama made full use of the social media, McCain did not. Obama has learned how to put his talking points before the people – just look at the White Houses use of social media after the last State of the Union (and simultaneous to the Republican response – sly). Clearly future political campains will learn the benefits of social media.

What of other social networking sites? Classmates, Match, LinkedIn, DiggIt, StumbleUpon and others. (A couple fairly good lists are found at http://www.prelovac.com/vladimir/top-list-of-social-media-sites and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_social_networking_websites.)

For more information, see an excellent article by Brent Leary on http://technology.inc.com: Social Media’s Good, Bad, Ugly and Unexpected.