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Facilitating Dissent: The Ethical Implications of Political Organizing via Social Media

Brian J. Bowe, Robin Blom

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Social media are often perceived as a frivolous space for youths to connect socially. But youths who live in countries where free expression is curtailed and official news outlets are subject to government censorship, information and communication technology (ICT) offers an increasingly important vehicle for political expression. In many cases, blogging and social media tools fulfill the role that journalism serves in more democratic societies. This article considers recent events in Iran, Egypt, China, and Myanmar, among other countries, and how Western information/social network corporations facilitate dissent. It also considers the ethical implications for doing so when there are negotiations with authoritative regimes, and the risks to the youthful communities that are at the receiving end of the consequences of these policies.

Keywords: social media – political organization – ethics – networks – freedom