Social media and the #armstreaty

July 12 2011, 7:22 AM  by Øistein Thorsen
Over the past two preparatory committees, non-governmental organizations and the media have provided reporting on arms negotiations. There has been an undeniable force present as these negotiations move forward: social media. On the pages of Facebook and Twitter, users ranging from diplomats to students have chosen to discuss, critique, and analyze the Jessica Erdman | Global Action to Prevent War @disarmdialogues

The advantages of social media, particularly used in conjunction with arms trade issues, can be seen with a simple search of #ArmsTreaty on Twitter. While the discussions at the United Nations may end at 6 PM, the tweeting continues. Social media will undoubtedly remain a forum for users to discuss the issues—thus, we must ask: how can we balance the simultaneous informal debate by literally any user, and the formal diplomatic debate at the United Nations?

Social media has changed the way news is spread, as well as the role of the “audience” member. Through Twitter, a user who was once a reader of a media source is now an aggregator. What does this mean for the upcoming ATT negotiations? There is no telling the effect social media may have, but there is vast opportunity in the simple Twitter question “What’s happening?” Besides the user answering this question.

Twitter offers users a public discussion forum where group interaction is inevitable. It would be to the advantage of states, non-governmental organizations, and individuals interested in the process to engage in the lively debate on Twitter during the Third Preparatory Committee. Twitter can serve as a platform for users to convene and have the frank discussions necessary to understand the facets of an arms trade.

Follow @DisarmDialogues on Twitter for real-time updates on #armstreaty, and take part in the discussion.

Also, check out the Economists special report on Social Media: “The People Formerly Known as the Audience”