Earthquake in Mexicali: the arrival of the Twitter effect?

Twitter he did it again: a 7.2 magnitude earthquake struck Mexicali, Baja California. While Televisionthe largest television channel in the country, was dedicated to broadcasting the football match Guadalajara – America, the response on the social network was immediate: photographs, searches for people, reports, citizen organization. As in the Chilean case, citizen action was noticed from the first moment, contrasting with a very slow response from the Mexican media. Wow, even the American media gave the event more space and attention!

If a few years ago, we had theorized the cnn effectlittle by little one twitter effect. THE CNN effect argues that by focusing media attention on a particular international conflict, tragedy, or incident, the news demands immediate political action. In order to avoid exposure, world governments make policies, military operations and other decisions under pressure from the media. In the particular case of natural disasters, the power of images not only acts on governments, but also triggers donations from civil society.

However, one of the major criticisms of CNN effect it is because it rushes the decisions of the government, less and less thoughtful, obeying a public opinion eager for a movement of the rudder, whether or not it is in the right direction. It is worth recalling the words of lee hamiltonin charge of international relations United States House of Representativeson intervention in Somalia: “It was images of starving children, not political goals, that brought us into Somalia in 1992. And it was images of American losses, not the achievement of our goals, that got us out. »

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Will the same thing happen with Twitter? In recent months, we have seen that it has the same effect by (bringing) civil society to carry out supportive actions. The coverage is capable of rivaling that of a television network, minute by minute. However, its illusion of omniscence adds dimensions with which television cannot compete, an experiential, unique and particular approach. It allows you to see the phenomenon from many angles, a range of first-hand perspectives. We are not limited to one image, one camera. We see through an infinite number of eyes, each with their own story.

However, this should not be taken as mere praise. Twitter it has a proven track record of attracting attention and promoting action, but it still falls short of mainstream weight. Yes, Twitter exceeds scope, but still has outstanding issues in depth of information. The construction of opinion leadership, credibility, expertise, are situations still under the fog of a tool that is reinventing itself day by day.

However, the panorama is optimistic for a social network which, well channeled, is capable of generating an alternative to conventional media power. Twitter it has already managed to catch up when it comes to natural disasters. The question is whether it will achieve the same power of pressure on other subjects: citizen complaints, corruption cases, social non-conformism. For now, at least in MexicoThis is unfinished business.

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