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Is Social Media Fanning the Flames in Ferguson

Tear gas reigns down on a woman kneeling in the street with her hands in the air. Getty Images

We live in an amazing time. The fact that you have the ability to connect to other people around the world in real time is something that is both astounding and powerful. But, as the famous saying by Voltaire goes, “with great power comes great responsibility”.

As the moment the findings of the grand jury were read, I was also monitoring a live video feed from a protester on the streets of Ferguson as well as monitoring twitter and facebook. As the evidence was presented, social media was very active with comments about a decision coming soon. As soon as the words “no indictment” were muttered, social media lit up. You could see the protesters all checking their cell phones at the same time. The only information that could be put out in the 140 character limit of twitter was that the officer would not be indicted.

With this powerful knowledge but not knowing any of the facts, some protesters obviously were out of control while others took advantage of the situation. There are many instances where a quick burst of information can be extremely helpful ie: Tornado spotted at 3rd and Broadway, but there are just as many instances that the full story cannot be explained.

“With great power comes great responsibility” has never been more true. We all have the ability to be heard, be seen and make a difference. Our technology and social media is impacting our lives in profound ways. Almost always, there is more to a story than what can fit into 140 characters. So use your technology and investigate further before you react.

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