Saturday, May 22, 2010

Dalai Lama Uses Twitter to Circumvent Chinese Government

The Dalai Lama held his first Internet chat with Chinese web users Friday, in a wide-ranging dialogue touching on politics and his eventual successor.

This short piece from the Mashable blog by Jennifer Van Grove describes how exiled Tibetan spiritual leader Dalia Lama held a one-hour question-and-answer session via Twitter to respond to questions submitted by Chinese web users.

Although Twitter is blocked in China, Chinese users were able to access the chat, as Twitter allows third-party applications and servers to freely use its data both inside and outside China. This has made Twitter largely available in China despite the vast web of government Internet censorship.

This certainly relates to our recent discussion of whether Internet technologies are facilitating activism around the area of human rights. Although they are blocked, social media sites in China appear to be what Radio Free Europe was for Eastern bloc Communism in the 20th Century.  Information is power in the 21st Century.
Social Media is emerging as a real-time investigation and response tool not only for journalists but also for government agencies.  Read about how the U.S. Engages the World with Social Media.
The State Department has been engaging in the dialogue around the world via social media in their mission to turn conflict into conversation.

Let's hope the current Obama administration makes better use of social media to make more transparent the recent oil spill disaster and cleanup efforts. On Twitter, a simple search for "oil spill" leads instantly to: View the NOAA Gulf of Mexico oil spill trajectory forecasts for Saturday through Monday .Satellite imagery gives transparent feedback to the public. While the public is still feeling pretty powerless regarding the Gulf crisis, eventually citizens will be able to put all the pieces together and hold corporate and government entities accountable.  The "drill baby drill" folks are holding their tongues for now.

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