“Social media is a term used to describe the type of media that is based on conversation and interaction
between people online. Social media are media designed to be disseminated through social interaction, using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques.” – Wikipedia
For almost two decades, the web has changed the world and revolutionized how information is
stored, published, searched and consumed. The ripple effect has spread so wide that it impacts not just businesses and industries but crosses over into politics, medicine, media and breaches geographical locations, cultural boundaries and ultimately, affects people’s day to day lives.
The great wave of web innovation since Google in 1998 has been in social media. Social media is about networking and communicating through text, video, blogs, pictures, status updates on sites such as Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn or microblogs such as Twitter.
What makes social media of particular interest to journalism is how it has become influential as a communication and news-breaking tool. In June 2009, the U.S. State Department asked Twitter to delay scheduled maintenance on the service because it was being used by protestors angered by the results of Iran’s disputed presidential election. In July 2009, a Twitter user in Jakarta beat most major news companies by tweeting about the Bali bombings. More recently, Google and Microsoft began integrating Twitter messages into their respective search engines, a new feature described as real-time search.1