Sree Sreenivasan, Dean of Student Affairs and Professor, Digital Media, University of Columbia, has described the rise of social media the most important development in communications along with mobile phones.

Participating in a Meet-the-Press programme at the Press Club here on Thursday, Prof. Sreenivasan said social media had gone beyond the control of those who were instrumental in their creation. E-mail, cell phone, and social media were a combination which was altering the entire process of communication familiar to the contemporary world.

Prof. Sreenivasan said social media raised some genuine questions about privacy. Facebook was a space where thoughts of the user were transparent.

Google talk was also similar in nature. But, when it is a choice between privacy and convenience, people would tend to opt for convenience. India had the fifth place in terms of the number of Facebook users worldwide, he added.

Prof. Sreenivasan was of the view that while social media could not by itself make revolutions, it could play a role in taking revolutions forward as was seen in the Arab uprising. People of all ages, particularly the youth, had come out on the streets of various Arab nations demanding democracy and made great sacrifices to protect the rights of the people. What the social media was to take that process forward, he said.

Prof. Sreenivasan said newspaper reading was on a drastic downswing in the U.S. and pointed out that the economics of newspaper was becoming increasingly hard to sustain, he said.

The programme was attended by Anand Krishna, Information Officer, U.S. Consulate, Chennai, as well.