Social Media Changing “Death Penalty” Or “Political” Views

Here at OSM, we often write articles on the subject of social media and the way in which sites such as Facebook and Twitter have been taken on by millions of people globally. For some users, one site over the other may be more favourable or there may be a percentage of you who use both. In the past we’ve given you news regarding events that may be announced and then live streamed on the sites, birth announcements, tributes to a passing star and even if sites may be enduring changes, this is the case with Facebook’s layout.

Today though, what we’ll about to report on, is a much talked about subject that some agree with, whilst others believe that there should be a stop to it and that’s the debate of the Death Penalty. The world of social media and the sites mentioned above, particularly that of Twitter are now being used for people to air their feelings, this was apparent yesterday and the days leading up to the death of Troy Davis.

Last night, Troy Davis who had been on death row, was executed by lethal injection in Georgia, Atlanta. Following on from the death of an off-duty police officer Mark MacPhail, over time it seemed that witness statements had changed questioning whether Davis was in fact guilty of the crime. To this, Twitter had been inundated with tweets saying that the execution shouldn’t go ahead and Davis was an innocent man. The site according to bbc.co.uk, saw trending topics such as Troy Davis, No Evidence and Letter to Georgia.

Cases like the Davis one have caused uproar before now, but its the surge in users flocking to social media sites that’s caught the headlines. Past cases such as the execution of Karla Faye Tucker caused massive media attention as did the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal who had a death penalty sentence revoked to a normal prison term.

Professor Brian Southwell at North Carolina University was keen to comment on the Davis case by saying, “I’m not sure that 1,000 tweets or Facebook posts have the same power as one phone call. We’ve lowered the bar for activism. Now it’s a click away.”

Another of John Blume, Professor of History and Director of the Cornell University Death Penalty Centre said, “With social media, a lot more people heard about the Troy Davis case than they would have before this existed. Maybe they didn’t know about the case and weren’t involved in the efforts, but a lot more people now know what happened, and perhaps the increased awareness will have an corrosive effect on support for the death penalty down the road.”

Despite a barrage of tweets to stop the execution, it still went ahead, so will social media in the future really have any affect on such cases?

What are your thoughts on social media being used in this way?