A Facebook study from a few years back revealed how without the use of anything but social media, participants were efficiently able to track DARPA weather balloons — and as the most recent Facebook phenomenon is looked back upon, we are once again reminded how quickly social media can organize and mobilize sentiment.
The DARPA Facebook study was a few years back, in 2009 — and as social media became awash in red avatars to promote marriage equality, LiveScience looked at the original findings and spoke with study author Iyad Rahwan.
Rahwan observed that even back in 2009, social media enabled those participating in locating the DARPA balloons to be “able to communicate instantly with large numbers of people, form ad hoc teams at a very large scale and exchange crucial information in a timely manner.”
Even now, however, Rahwan says that Facebook study and Twitter data is still not nearly as advanced as the technology and scope of social media itself. He told the site:
But despite all of this promise, our scientific understanding of the processes underlying social mobilization in the Internet age is still lacking.
Rahwan says it’s the broad yet still targeted networks forged by social media that enables such information to get in front of the right eyes, whether for a political cause or crisis. He adds:
It is simply impossible to do this without the ability to broadcast to all of your acquaintances — something that is very easy using sites like Facebook and Twitter.
And it seems anecdotally, one need only look at last week’s marriage equality support phenomenon to observe the raw power of Facebook to spread and galvanize a movement.