"Services like Twitter have grown beyond destinations to literally become communications infrastructure, the
means by which we interact with our peers, our friends, our heroes and our brands," said Shimmin. "Twitter, in
particular, has become a means by which we're able to participate in vast but short-lived communities, not just
within our limited circle of friends. When we see something on television that excites or enrages us, we turn to
Twitter, connecting with others who are sharing this same experience."
Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group, said people are increasingly quick to turn to their
favorite social networks whenever they're upset or excited about something.
"Social networks have now become deeply intertwined in the fabric of life," he added. "It's to the point where
if someone has some issue or problem they want to vent about, they don't call their friends or neighbors, they
immediately run to Facebook or Twitter."
In a similar vein, users took to social networks in March to vent anger at conservative
commentator Rush Limbaugh after he verbally bashed a Georgetown University law student for supporting birth
In part because of social pressure, Limbaugh's show at the time lost more than 20 advertisers, including
Allstate Insurance, AOL, Citrix, Quicken Loans and Sears.
The month before that, a chorus of outrage on Twitter and Facebook helped to push officials at the Susan G.
Komen For the Cure to rescind
their controversial decision to cut funding for Planned Parenthood programs.
"The immediacy and global reach of these social sites has indeed driven appreciable social change, be it raising
the awareness of worthy causes or empowering the disenfranchised," said Shimmin. "Twitter and Facebook are simply
mediums for a message -- the continuing realization of the simple desire to hear and to be heard."
Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for
Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, on Google+
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