Social Media as the Marketplace of Ideas


Photo by: Telegraph

On June 11th 2016, Omar Mateen, an American man who pledged ISIS, shot and killed 49 and injured 53 innocent people at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. According to CNN, it was considered the deadliest mass shooting in the United States and the nation’s worst terror attack since 9/11.

I remember exactly when this happened and where I was because of the use of social media. Video’s taken from outside were being posted everywhere and I remember this girl (who died that night) took a snapchat of the gun fires inside. According to CNN, she sent that snapchat video to her friend, who then posted it to Facebook and it went viral on Twitter.

Also on CNN, Pulse Orlando’s Twitter account tweeted that night, “Everyone get out of Pulse and keep running” and also posted that to their Facebook account. In addition, screen shots of a text conversations released all over Twitter from Eddie Justice and his mother giving a play by play of what was happening, up until the moment he was shot and killed in the women’s bathroom. Lastly, Anthony Torres posted a video to Facebook of the shooter firing back at the police with a caption explaining what happened.

All of this news getting out and warning people to stay far away from the club was completely credited to the use of social media. It’s marketplace may have saved many lives and was able to update local residents and family / friends of the victims. We know that the content being posted about this tragic event was true, because people were able to posted videos and pictures of what was happening. Social media was able to spread this tragic event with updates around the U.S. because of how quickly people responded and shared the content.

Police were also able to use their Twitter accounts and update everyone on the situation. For example, @OrlandoPolice tweeted a picture of an officer’s helmet that was hit with a gunshot to alert the public that this office was saved, and that the suspect was killed.

According to Fox News, “The FBI was scouring Mateen’s cellphone and electronic devices on Sunday afternoon to identify any possible terrorist connections. This includes searching for any traces of propaganda, scrubbing of his web browsing history, and running down communications with individuals via social media and mobile messaging apps.”  Social media was able to help the FBI dig deeper and investigate who this man really was and why he did what he did.

Citizens could take advantage of social media as a marketplace by knowing what content is important to post. For example, trolling and starting arguments are unnecessary and waste of time especially when trying to find important information. People should also cite their sources so the public knows they are being truthful. Lastly, people could RT the source instead of reposting friends, family etc. so it’s easier to find the source of the information. All of these tips are perfect examples of positive and impactful use of social media during crisis’ like the Orlando shooting.




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