Daily Report: The Increasingly Tectonic Force of Social Media

Social media has been in the glare since the election for its perceived harmful qualities, such as the spreading of hate speech and the false information.

But the effect of social media on world affairs is much larger than just misinformation and mean tweets, Farhad Manjoo writes. In his new State of the Art column, he argues that social media — now collectively used by billions of people worldwide through services like Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, WeChat and Weibo — has grown to a point where it is increasingly influencing the course of global events.

The election of Donald J. Trump, who used Twitter to magnify his message, is evidence of that shift, Farhad writes. So was the rise of Bernie Sanders, whose liberal philosophy and policies were also spread by social media. And there are many other examples, such as Brexit and the momentum behind ISIS, of events and movements most likely enabled by social media.


“Now each person with once-maligned views can see that he’s not alone,” Farhad writes. “And when these people find one another, they can get things done — create memes, publications and entire online worlds that bolster their worldview, and then break into the mainstream.”

Social media is also in the spotlight for a different reason these days — the kind involving big dollar signs. That comes in the form of Snap, the parent company of the social media service Snapchat, which has filed confidentially for an initial public offering, Michael J. de la Merced and Katie Benner write.

Snap’s I.P.O., which is likely to take place early next year, is set to be the biggest tech offering since that of the Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba in 2014. It presages a wave of other possible public offerings from highly valued tech start-ups such as Airbnb and Uber.

Time to mark your calendars.