The latest elections in Russia have caused a storm of controversy due to alleged vote fraud. The allegations have infuriated Russian citizens, but amateur video and eye witness accounts of fraud syndicated through social networks like Facebook and Twitter have sent Russians into the streets to protest what they see as a huge infringement on their rights.
This is not the first time these allegations have arisen after an election in Russia. However, most of the time the damning evidence is lacking and the state media operations show little interest in investigating and reporting on the allegations. The difference this time is the citizen journalism taking place on social networks.
Where in the past it was unheard of to see more than a couple hundred people participate in political protests, this time the outrage fueled by online communications has led to protests of 5,000 people in some instances. As a result, the former Russian President Mikhail Gorbachev has called for the election results to be annulled and a new vote take place.
Much like events leading to what has been called the “Arab Spring,” this provides another example of the power of social media in the world we live in today. We hope for the best outcomes in Russia, and that social media is allowed to continue to thrive and empower the average citizen.