Looks like Malcolm Gladwell will be eating his words regarding the power of social media. The renowned author had previously argued that relationships formed over social media sites like Twitter and Facebook weren’t strong enough to foster revolution and overthrow governments.
Last fall, he stated in a piece in the New Yorker that social media would never play a major role in an organized revolution.
“The platforms of social media are built around weak [inter-personal] ties,” he said. And “weak ties seldom lead to high-risk activism” of the type needed to overthrow a government.”
This month, of course, former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was booked from office by protests that had been organized mainly via Twitter and Facebook.
One man was so moved by the experience, he even named his newborn daughter “Facebook”. Doesn’t sound like a “weak” relationship to me.
Taking his argument one step further, Gladwell wrote in a February 2 blog post in the New Yorker that the role of Twitter in the Egyptian protests was not that critical and referred to many revolutions that occurred long before anyone had ever heard of social media.
“People protested and brought down governments before Facebook was invented,” he wrote.
Gladwell’s best-selling books include “Outliers”, “Blink”, and “What the Dog Saw: And Other Adventures”.
- The Nation: Gladwell Gets It Wrong On Social Media (npr.org)
- Malcom Gladwell, Your Slip is Showing (briansolis.com)
- I’m sorry, Malcolm Gladwell (but you’re still wrong) (RexBlog.com)
- Edward Lee: Why Malcolm Gladwell Should Apologize to Social Media (huffingtonpost.com)