Author-me.com started in 1999. It was a writing display site and was in competition with Writing.com while the Internet was new. These and few other websites permitted writers to post on the Internet. Readers had minimal chances to comment on each other's articles and stories.
While writing.com allowed writers to comment on each other for a fee, author-me.com made deliberate efforts to have authors comment on each other's works for free. Surprisingly, it became evident that while each author was vitally interested in reading comments on their own works, they were not inclined to bother with commenting on stories by others writers.
By 2004, the writing sites were replaced by a new concept, social media. Mark Zuckerberg of Harvard University established Facebook.com. At about the same time, alternative social media websites MySpace (founded by Chris DeWolfe and Tom Anderson) started, along with Odeo's Twitter.
By 2006 Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass, Evan Williams and Biz Stone were discussing the idea of using text messaging to share statuses, etc. These form the basis of today's postings.[i]
It's possible to view the timeline for websites on the Wayback Machine (https://www.archive.org/), but recently Facebook made its traffic record invisible, probably due to privacy concerns, for the Wayback Machine allows viewers to see exactly what Facebook published on multiple dates in the past.
Presently Facebook members spend as much as 10 hours daily on the website, which has 310 million viewers daily. Twitter, on the other hand, has 22 million viewers per day. (Data from Google Trends, 2011, and "Nielsen MarketWatch, 2004.
Much of the information on social media is personal and spiritual. However, there are times when this new media force has become part of the international scene. More and more we hear of social media postings which comment on distressing international events.
A major advantage of these websites is their instantaneous reporting of a new thought, issue, or even an incident. In cases where government censorship blocks legitimate news, social media can provide an eyewitness account. This undermines censorship by repressive governments, and helps to inhibit false propaganda. Since the reports are immediate, there's much less chance of bias in reporting. In cases when such reporting is extreme, it's possible for other witnesses to contest and correct the original posting.
This is the self-correcting feature of social media. Given that extreme viewpoints can be damaging to productive dialogue, it's typical for extremist views to be followed by contrary comments, thus leading to more useful conclusions. This can facilitate dissemination of a new piece of knowledge, a new issue, or a new peace initiative.
In either case, social media can be seen as a peaceful tool that can make it possible to achieve justice and harmony in today's world.
1. [i] Bilton, N. (2013). Hatching Twitter: A True Story of Money, Power, Friendship, and Betrayal. Penguin. Chapter II, Section Status, Pages 55-58.