| August 24, 2017
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Importance of Social Media in shaping public opinion

Constructing public opinion via social media

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Social media now has become an increasingly important part of our life. The awareness of using social media has moved way ahead than just creating, sharing or exchanging information. Social media is now taken as one of the important tools that is shaping public opinion, promoting business and reaching out to targeted audience to meet our goals.

Providing real-time information is the wonderful feature of social media which makes people more conscious. In the past, opinion building process was complex and time consuming, however, thanks to social media we can now form public opinion in no time.

It will take no time to construct public opinion through social media now. For instance, couple of weeks ago the hashtag of #DonateOilToIndianEmbassy became such a viral in couple of hours on twitter that twitter users decided to gather in front of Indian Embassy and staged symbolic protest against unofficial blockade from India to Nepal. The hashtag became very popular that it topped the list in twitter trends. This shows how quick social media can be in building public opinion. There are many instances where social media has played crucial role in making people aware about various contemporary issues and concern.

I would like to relate my case where social media played an instrumental role in shaping my consciousness on various concerns – I still remember one of my friends added me to one facebook group in 2011 and the name of the group is 'Come on youth, Stand Up' – then the group basically focused on building campaigns to metaphorically pressurize CA members and political leaders to draft constitution on time. Later the group shaped well and started campaigning on various social issues, in fact the same group played instrumental role right after massive earthquake for various relief related works. So this proves that various other groups and campaigns like this are building strong public opinion to execute various humanitarian work, advocacy and general awareness.

In Nepal, major campaigns like Occupy Baluwatar happened for more than 100 days to advocate against gender-based violence and impunity, Nepal Unites to bring youth in same platform to raise awareness on various socio-political issues, Welcome to my Constitution in 2012 which symbolically welcomed constitution to act as one of the pressure groups then. Similarly, now youths and civil society leaders are conducting various creative and constructive campaigns under hashtag of #HamiNepali to build strong public opinion – one the events they recently conducted was #‎WakeupKumbhakarna to symbolically replicate the character Kumbhakarna (one who always sleeps).

There are so many campaigns and events led through social media in Nepal and across the globe like ALS Ice Bucket Challenge to raise fund and awareness of the disease called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. We also have example of removing Egyptian ruler in recent Egypt's revolution and many experts say social media played an instrumental role in the revolution. There are social media based campaigns and movements which were not successful as well – social media may not always play instrumental role in building public opinion so the bottom line is it can construct both constructive and destructive opinion.

Thus, public opinion refers to an expression of major fraction of community on various social and political agendas. In current scenario, the social media users represent the major chunk of population so the opinion building via social media can be considered as major way forward for any issue. No doubt, public opinion can be created, converted or diverted from social media.

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