It is clear that the recent revolutionary activity in the Middle East can be attributed in part to the role that social media has played in creating communication channels for citizens to express their malcontent and to rally others around a cause. Some are even calling it a digital revolution, while in China, the term "Jasmine Revolution" has been blocked on the country's Internet and even the seemingly business minded LinkedIn has been banned because the group function can be used to spread information about a cause.
There is one key ingredient that takes a revolution to the streets, and that is passion for the cause. If people believe strongly in the cause, they will even take risks to their own life in order to see the fruit of their passion. So, thanks in part to social media, dictators have been put on notice.
So, let's examine the parallel between the dictator powered regimes and the association world. Organizations who do not operate transparently are in danger of being overruled by individuals who care deeply about the organization's cause. Even a hint or perception of a tight network of "cronies" running an organization behind a veil of secrecy is cause for a revolution.
While social media has the potential of doing great things, perhaps one of the greatest benefits is the pressure that it puts on organizations to operate transparently. Your organization and its leaders may not have any intention of wrong doing, but may be overcome by just the perception. Now is not the time to "block out" the network. Rather it is time to listen in and hear what your caring community is talking about.