Social media can be a powerful communication tool. Within hours, important information can be spread to thousands. An article by Kellie E. Carlyle of Virginia Commonwealth University discusses the topic of social media and sharing information about violence as a public health issue.
Carlyle believes that social media can and should shape public understanding and social norms about public health issues including violence.
Carlyle says, “Social media is a potentially powerful medium for shaping public opinion because it features user-generated content and facilitates bidirectional communication both of which can be used to challenge how violence is framed by traditional media.”
Thanks to how large social media has grown, it changes how people think and perceive violence. It can also move much quicker than other media. Social media is also instantaneous and various people can have a conversation at once. It can confront and challenge victim blaming attitudes in real time. Social media can also provide support and resources for survivors quicker and in real time.
Carlyle admits that that all known information about the relationship between social media conversations and violence is not complete. She says that the effect of conversations on health issues needs more investigation. More research will also be needed for more complex social media sites including Instagram and Pinterest.
In the meantime, violence related organizations and groups should understand the power of social media. They should monitor for violence related hashtags and posts and make sure they are a part of the conversation. They should also make sure to provide support and help in a timely manner. Social media can also provide a secure place for victims of violence to get the help they need from these organizations. Since social media has such far reach, these groups should provide information to help change perceptions about violence.
To read the full text of this study: http://bit.ly/2Az2fFp
Carlyle, K. E. (2017). The role of social media in promoting understanding of violence as a public health issue. Journal of Communication in Healthcare, 10(3), 162-164