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How social media has changed the world

Happy Social Media Day! This year marks the eighth-annual official global celebration and takes place on 30th June, championing the many ways social media is impacting global communication.

From the outset, social media has had a growing impact on our everyday lives. Social media is the first thing most people look at in the morning and the last thing they do at night too! To celebrate, here’s a range of social media events that have changed the world and impacted people’s lives in the process.

Bradley’s Fight

Six-year-old Sunderland AFC fan Bradley Lowery has neuroblastoma – a rare form of childhood cancer – and is terminally ill. The devastating news was the start of a mission for his parents, Gemma and Carl, to make sure that every day was filled with happiness.

They set up a Facebook and Twitter page, Bradley’s Fight, originally with the aim of raising money for ground-breaking treatment in the USA. Unfortunately, the treatment didn’t work, but the social media attention led to thousands of well-wishers offering special experiences for Bradley to enjoy.

Now, Bradley has been a mascot for Sunderland several times and has struck up a remarkable friendship with star striker Jermain Defoe, who regularly visits Bradley and texts his mum for updates. The six-year-old has also enjoyed a ride in a Ferrari to a Sunderland match, meeting a whole host of Premier League footballers, holidays, being given an honorary 41st place in the Grand National, and even winning the Match of the Day Goal of the Month Award!

Most recently, charity single Smile For Bradley has hit the charts, aiming to raise money for the Bradley Lowery Foundation, which raises funds for children with neuroblastoma. Social media has contributed to making Bradley’s signature smile even wider and helped raise thousands to help children with neuroblastoma.

Dogs at Polling Stations

This is, quite literally, pictures of dogs at polling stations up and down the country. Throughout school, we are taught that exercising your right to vote, and ultimately choosing the direction of your country, is a special and momentous occasion. Now, thanks to Twitter, dogs at polling stations is almost as big an event as voting itself.

During the 2010 general election, the hashtag #DogsatPollingStations was born, as Twitter users uploaded pictures of dogs sat forlornly, patiently and looking bored as they waited for their owners to cast their vote.

With politically uncertain times, whenever there has been a vote in the UK – whether it be general elections or the EU and Scottish Independence referendums – we’ve been treated to thousands of funny (and sometimes bizarre) pictures of dogs at polling stations.

Red Bull Stratos

A world first in October 2012, Red Bull Stratos was a space diving project where Austrian sky diver Felix Baumgartner flew approximately 24 miles into the stratosphere above New Mexico in a helium balloon, before free falling in a pressure suit and parachuting to earth.

Reaching 843 mph during the descent, Baumgartner broke the sound barrier, becoming the first human to do so without any engine power – and the entire event was broadcast live on YouTube, and shared on Facebook and Twitter.

During the jump, a record 8 million viewers all over the world had comprehensive, free, live access to the event – with a slight time delay if anything went wrong – watching history unfold before their eyes through social media.

With the power of live streaming laid out for all to see, all manner of live events are now streamed online, from football matches to music festivals, to other world record attempts. And they are all shared on social media where they can be commented on instantly.

The Dab

Love it or loathe it, the Dab is here to stay. Pioneered by Frenchman and Manchester United footballer Paul Pogba as a goal celebration in 2015, the craze originates as a hip-hop dance move. Pogba claimed ownership of the Dab, sharing videos and photos of himself ‘dabbing’ on Instagram and Snapchat in just about every situation, in response to almost anything, and the world followed suit.

Similar to the Sir Mo Farah’s ‘Mobot’ and Usain Bolt’s ‘To Di World’ celebration, the Dab’s association with social media has made it a truly global phrase, with plenty of people doing it for no reason other than because they can!


Je suis Charlie (I am Charlie) is a slogan and logo created by French art director, Joachim Roncin.

First used on Twitter, it was adopted by supporters of freedom of speech and press freedom after a shooting in January 2015 at the offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in which 12 people were killed.

It was used to identify someone who is in solidarity with those who were killed and a supporter of freedom of expression. Many journalists also used the phrase as a rallying cry.

The slogan was then used on the Charlie Hebdo website and used as a hashtag - #JeSuisCharlie. Within two days it had become one of the most popular hashtags in Twitter history, with over 5 million tweets. A simple hashtag had become a signifier and highlighted the importance of freedom of speech the world over, while demonstrating support for the families and friends of those killed.

These are just a handful of examples. More or less every day social media makes both big and small changes to the world as we know it, throughout all aspects of our lives. Whether it be in politics as with the Arab Spring, or humour with the creation of the meme, social media is impacting our lives more quickly than we could’ve ever imagined.

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