If You Thought Twitter Didn’t Have the Power to Effect Change, Think Again

Social Networking Offbeat

Yes, this is going to come off looking like a partisan post. I can deal with that because (a) as someone who finished graduate school with some hefty loans, I really felt for the students whose loan rates were about to double, and (b) even if you sit on the other side of the aisle it is hard NOT to see the true power of social media.

Student loan rates were set to double if Congress didn’t act and, for a time, it looked like that rate increase was a forgone conclusion. The White House got into the mix, and went to their new friend social media to get the message out to those who would be most directly impacted — students in their 20s. Using their voice and this new means of communication, the White House and their proxies set up the hashtag #dontdoublemyrate and began a focused campaign to get the message out.

Within a short period of time the hashtag was trending, and the political price for politicians who allowed the increase to go through became clear.  It would seem that the one thing you do not want as a politician is a 20-something electorate who wants you out of office.

This video, a political position piece, sets the stage for what happened and why. A few choice quotes from it include

“I really feel like I’m enfranchised and I’m here and I have a voice.”

“I used the hashtag “dontdoublemyrates on Twitter and suddenly I was being told that I would be seeing President Obama.”

“Just being able to start off with a Tweet for hopefully someone to hear, and then go to the White House and meet President Obama…”

“It was really refreshing to hear him engage my generation and get involved in the issue…”

So if you thought Twitter was only for broadcasting the latest FourSquare checkin… think again.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YjOrVrM1GuM&hd=1]

 

About the Author

Dan Cohen
Having a father who was heavily involved in early laser and fiber-optical research, Dan grew up surrounded by technology and gadgets. Dan’s father brought home one of the very first video games when he was young and Dan remembers seeing a “pre-release” touchtone phone. (When he asked his father what the “#” and “*” buttons were his dad said, “Some day, far in the future, we’ll have some use for them.”) Technology seemed to be in Dan’s blood but at some point he took a different path and ended up in the clergy. His passion for technology and gadgets never left him.

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