Firm News

Social Media: The World's Contact Book

August 17, 2017

How social media can help find more than just friends

Social media’s uses are as numerous as its followers. From keeping in touch with hometown friends to selling homemade goods, social media is used to connect with others. Social media is used to find people—and that’s more than just finding friends.

Following the Charlottesville tragedy last Saturday, @yesyoureracist on Twitter started outing alt-right protesters. The Twitter account has been calling out racists since its creation in 2012. The account posted pictures of protesters and asked followers to reply with their identities. @yesyoureracist then posted the names of the protesters, Facebook profile pictures, and in certain cases, their Twitter handles. In one instance, an @yesyoureracist tweet made its way over to the west coast and was seen by one protester’s employers who then released him from employment.

Social media has also been used to uncover the whereabouts of missing people. Following the bombing at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester in May, victims used Twitter hashtags to ask for information about victims of the tragedy. After the attack, a 16-year-old from Scotland who was not present at the concert tweeted “My friend...was at the Ariana concert…She's wearing a yellow hoodie and I can’t get hold of her.” Soon after, the tweet was met by a reply from Manchester that confirmed the whereabouts and the safety of the missing teen.

Social media does more than find people. Kidneys are the most sought-after organ worldwide. Nearly 80% of those in need of kidneys are waiting—sometimes for months at a time—for a donor. Social media has made the search for organ donors easier. Jonathan Daniels of Fort Lauderdale was diagnosed with a rare disease resulting in the need of a kidney. Within 3 months of his viral Facebook post, a compatible stranger from Los Angeles saw the post and offered Daniels his kidney. Daniels’ health has been restored thanks to the altruistic donor.

Social media can even lead to finding fame. Justin Bieber’s 7-year reign as one of the nation’s most popular celebrities can be attributed to social media. Bieber, along with scores of other musicians, turned to YouTube in hopes of being discovered. A talent manager from New York first noticed the Canadian’s YouTube channel, to which he posted covers to songs by Ne-Yo and Chris Brown. Shortly after, Bieber signed with Usher’s record label and has been chart topping ever since.

Saturday’s attack calls to mind how closely the world is intertwined. In all four of the abovementioned cases, people in different parts of the nation were able to share information with total strangers through social media—and chances are, none of those people could have ever connected without it.

Fallon Chiasson is an intern at Bond Moroch.