Social Media – A Revolutionary Tool

The Arab Spring is a term expressing the revolutionary movements in 2010, which began in the Arab region. What made the Arab Spring so unique was the utilisation of social media to establish and promote uprising agendas, as these were the first collective movements in the Middle East since Internet and social media revolutions. A journal article by Richard Lindsey explores the significance of social media during the Arab Spring, allowing individuals to influence public opinion and gain international support through the global distribution of news. Lindsey assures that techniques and procedures via social media will affect future revolutionary tactics in globalised societies, however the degree to which is questionable.

Sharing mass amounts of uncensored and accurate information through social networking significantly prompted the rise in Arab Spring activists. Not only did they obtain supremacy to overthrow powerful dictatorship, but also Arab civilians were now conscious of underground communities whom they can connect with. This may have not been possible without the significant role social media played, “We use Facebook to schedule the protests… Twitter to coordinate, and YouTube to tell the world.” – Arab Spring activist from Egypt. Stories of shared grievances and hopelessness was overflowing over these networks. The use of digital storytelling through social media is what drew people into the streets to protest.

ArabSpring-Tweeter

Image source

A blog post on PolicyMic describes the use of social networks as assisting to remove the psychological barrier of fear for Arab civilians by connecting and sharing information. The consistent flow of news provided a sense of reassurance that they are not alone, and that there are others experiencing hardship, prejudice, and similar accounts of brutality. Professor of mass communications from Cairo, Hussein Amin, stated that social networks “for the first time provided activists with an opportunity to quickly disseminate information while bypassing government restrictions”. It is worthy to note that new social networking platforms were not the reason for the Arab Spring but function in serving future revolutions with regard to communication.

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One thought on “Social Media – A Revolutionary Tool

  1. I think another really interesting point some scholar articles fail to mention is how effective the Social Media platforms were in helping the people from these places spread their messages to the outside world. Iran’s government (as an example) had previously worked extremely effectively in censoring media to the outside world, and in preparation for the March 2012 elections, ‘instituted strict rules on cybercafes and is preparing to launch a national Internet. It required all Iranians to register their web sites with the Ministry of art and culture.’ Thus, it effectively left its people with little legal space to which they could engage with outside audiences about what was occurring within their country. Interestingly as well, during the conflict in Iran over 60% of outgoing links from Twitter were from accounts regarding Iran (Murthy 2011, ppg. 786).

    (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_censorship_in_Iran)

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