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7 Ways Social Media is Helping Developing Countries

It’s undeniable that we live in an era where online activities are defining our physical realities. As nations globally gain access to technology, the democratization of information is being socially disseminated. We are living in a world that is fully connected. However, developing countries are still lagging behind. The global market place has opened a new world of opportunities where like-minded people, ideas, and new discoveries are able to be shared with those already privileged. Anyone can be an agent of change! All it takes is the click of a button or swipe of a finger to reach millions of people in just seconds. Social media provides instant empowerment and, in many ways, has helped shape developing countries to rise and progress socially, economically, educationally, and politically. These are just a few examples to start the conversation.

#1 Helping Save Lives

When serious illnesses happen, social media is often the first to know; providing real-time insights. As a result, monitoring of social media can predict disease outbreaks and allow early intervention to begin. The article is an example of how Twitter helped health care providers in Haiti to quickly detect where the cholera outbreak started in order to control it.

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#2 Promoting Health

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) core missions are to promote health, keep the world safe, and serve the vulnerable. Through social media, health care providers in developing countries have the abilities to reach out and engage with patients, increase health education, and identify potential patients. The WHO WeLink discussed how hospitals used social media in West Africa to fight Ebola and promote health through localization-based communication.
http://www.who.int/healthpromotion/conferences/9gchp/en/

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#3 Empowering Women

In some developing countries, cultural norms and restrictions are still imposed; which has kept women in traditional roles. However, the virtual world of social media has empowered and encouraged women to participate in the political and economic life within their society. The article by Daher further discusses teaching young Lebanese women to understand and master social media to advocate for their rights as women and engage in activism.

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#4 Raising Awareness

Social media helps developing countries be more visible to the rest of the world. On platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr, they all provide a voice and insight into what’s happening. The awareness brings developed countries to offer humanitarian aid, funding, and medical support. Non-profit organization such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has provided billions of dollars in funding to improving health and well-being of people in various developing countries.

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#5 Informal Learning and Teaching Tool

Social media in developed countries, such as the US, is viewed as a leisure and fun activity. In developing countries, it’s an opportunity to improve student learning, promote learning community, and facilitate student-teacher engagement. The findings in the article revealed that there is value in social media as an informal teaching and learning tool for developing countries in higher education.

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#6 Mobilizing Change

Social Media can be a driver for social and political change. Examples are throughout the Middle East during the Arab Spring to which Twitter and Facebook played a critical role in enabling protesters to organize, meet, and resist the current government regime.

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#7 Reuniting Families

People from developing countries seek asylum for many reasons. Such as, war, religious, social, racial, and political persecution. Often, the result is the displacement of families. However, social network site like Refunite https://refunite.org was designed to connect dispersed families. In Jason DaPonte's article, refugees have said that free calls on Skype, WhatsApp, and the ability to connect with relatives for free using social platforms (like Facebook) is invaluable.

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