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ERSU ABLAK >The real power of social media

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Sometimes it is best to follow global news to understand the real workings of any phenomenon. Social media is a strong tool in Turkey, but it is mostly used for negative effects.  Aside from animal rights activists who are very organized in Turkey, no one seems to create a positive change because everything is very political and all the political parties use trolls very effectively. 

But in the United States, the political trolls are not as successful as in Turkey and many daily issues are still not very political, so people can create positive outcomes even if they are not organized. 

The most recent example is what happened to United Airlines. People who reacted over social media caused the company to lose money and value, thus forcing them to issue an apology and promise to behave better. 

News that a passenger was forcibly dragged off a United Airlines plane has gone viral all over the world.

 According to CNN, the injustice of the ‎incident is that the gentleman pulled from the flight was forced to bear the cost of United’s error in selecting passengers to give up their seats after the airline overbooked the flight. He is a doctor who said he had appointments with patients to keep. United’s actions in removing him were arbitrary and capricious. 

The late economist Julian Simon of the University of Maryland provided an easy solution: hold an auction among passengers to bid to give up their seats in exchange for monetary compensation. 

It’s a very simple process. The gate agent, flight attendant, or even the pilot announces the need to get a few people off this plane. They ask, who will take a later flight for $250? How about $500? A free, round-trip ticket anywhere in the United States? The bids keep going up until the number of passengers who have to give up their seats is reached. The price could go up to $1,000 or more, but at some point on a flight with say 100 or more passengers, people will take the deal. Everyone goes away happy.

But that did not happen and United chose to remove the passenger by force. Since there were more than a few people with smartphones on the plane, the footage was leaked onto the internet almost instantly. It caused an outrage. People began trashing the company over social media and many destroyed their frequent flier cards. In the end, the company lost passengers and a billion dollars from its market share. 

Social media and the free market economy cornered the company, forcing it to make public statements acknowledging their mistakes and issue statements that they were sorry. 

I wonder what would have happened if the same incident had taken place in Turkey, let’s say with Turkish Airlines (THY

April/13/2017

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