There are kings and there are king makers. Social media is an example of a ‘space’ that serves both functions. Take for example the case of Mike Gravel, until about a week ago he was a complete unknown, but since the 2008 Democratic Presidential Primary Debate of April 26th, he is all that the people can talk about.
Of course part of it has to do with his his rather aggressive and argumentative (perhaps you could call it controversial) mannerisms, but that did nothing but to get him barred from mainstream media outlets. Not only did he get uninvited to the CNN debate, but he also got de-listed from the MSNBC online polls.
We’re not ranking Mike Gravel… This guy’s not just a third-tier longshot, he might be a little, um, off. Seriously, he was downright rude. Why should anyone agree to appear on stage with him? And why should any mainstream Democratic group invite him?)
But people can only censor you if you are restricted by the draconian and parochial laws of editorial control that mainstream media outlets have to abide by. With social media, editorial control is given back to the people, no one person or team of people can make a decision to censor someone. And that is exactly what has happened in the case of Mike Gravel.
If you look at the archive of Gravel-related content submitted to Digg or Reddit for example, you will see that the communities there, in response to the mainstream media shunning Gravel, have given him a platform and have gone out of their way to make his voice heard. When he was banned from CNN, the people circulated petitions (Digg, Reddit) and when he wasn’t given the due exposure on television, they helped by giving his YouTube account exposure.
While the mainstream media is calling his candidacy a long-shot, the people have already elected him president. And that is the power of social media.