Is social media making us more tolerant?
As the maelstrom of trolling stories and subsequent legal actions gathers pace, you’d be forgiven for scoffing at this article’s headline. After all, we’ve just seen another Twitter user face the heavy hand of the law for airing their (admittedly despicable) opinions online, and the dialogue surrounding the event certainly paints a picture of a society where tolerance is less than central.
However, outside of the Western World new research suggests that social media is in fact playing a very important role in promoting acceptance among humankind. The latest series of the Arab Social Media report, released by the Dubai School of Government, demonstrates that the use of social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook has actually made internet users “more open and tolerant of other people’s points of view”.
The report covered eight Arab countries – Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman, Kuwait and the UAE – many of which have experienced tremendous political and social turmoil, particularly during recent times. That social media is playing a beneficial role in smoothing controversy in these places, then, is no mean feat.
The infographic, below, depicts the positive effects social media is having within each country.