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A Trusted Friend in a Complicated World

6 Ways Social Media Made the World a Better Place

More than cat pics: A brief look at social media history and the most significant ways networks like Facebook improved our lives.

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Revolution, Reinvented

In the ’60s and ’70s, protesters marched and slept in front of the White House. Today, they take to Facebook instead. Example: Social media-organized protests in Egypt led to the ousting of dictator Hosni Mubarak. The movement began on January 25, 2011 with massive organized marches and gathering that lasted until February 11, when Mubarak finally stepped down.

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Unfiltered News

On January 15, 2009, Sarasota resident Janis Krums didn’t know he was about to become a breaking news reporter. That’s exactly what happened when he took a shot of US Airways Flight 1549 evacuating its passengers into freezing cold waters and tweeted, “There’s a plane in the Hudson. I’m on the ferry going to pick up the people. Crazy.” In that moment, @jkrums outshined cable news channels everywhere.

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Instant Emergency Response

In October 2012, New Yorkers with no electricity and barely a bar of cell phone service hopped on Twitter to share Hurricane Sandy emergency information, including traffic updates and gas station availability, to stranded locals.

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Expedited Healthcare

Chris Strouth had been living with kidney disease for three years when he was told he needed a transplant. Not knowing what else to do, he turned to Twitter and wrote: “[Expletive], I need a kidney.” Within a few days, 19 people stepped forward and offered to be tested. One of them, an old acquaintance of Strouth’s named Scott Pakudaitis, was a match and decided to go through the procedure. After the surgery, Scott sent a get-well-soon message to Strouth—on Twitter, of course.

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The Power of Shared Interests

Pinterest isn’t just for wedding planners: The U.S. Army uses 31 boards to connect families and soldiers through powerful images like army art installations, Vietnam hero snapshots and long-awaited reunions.

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Art Made Easy…And Fun

An art degree is expensive, but Instagram is free. More than 90 million users distress and filter photographs—a process that would take hours in a darkroom—in a matter of seconds and share them with friends in instant art show that never ends.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest