Arabs Springs and Social Media

The Arab springs has sparked many discussions on what sort of role social media has played in these events. Essentially there is the cyber-Utopian who believes the protests would never have happened without social media, and then there is the critics who think that social media was used as an organisational tool but didn’t create the change.

Before I had done much research on the subject I took the cyber-utopian view, that the revolution was a direct result of social media. The evidence here is when vlogger Asmaa Mahfouz created the video that resulted in thousands of people revolting. Through YouTube she created the revolution. 

Although after doing some research, personally I think the revolts would have transpired anyway. Sure social media played a role in this, I think with social media everything happened a lot quicker and everyone was more organised because of the quick communication that was created through twitter, and the organisation through Facebook. But there have been revolts in the past before , without the help of social media, take the French Revolution for example they sure didn’t have social media in 1789. Also what was occurring in these countries was so directly affecting the citizens that they eventually would have had enough and something would have been done. The revolutions started because there was already a problem and a reason to start them, not because social networking sites created a revolution. 

Morozov writes in his article, Facebook and Twitter are just places revolutionaries go, that he attended the collaborations between cyber-activists in person, not online but face to face. Showing that more was needed than just social media to start these uprisings. 

 

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5 comments

  1. I would also have to say that the revolutions probably would have taken place without social media over time. Although, in saying that, I think that social media has been a great and positive tool in instigating change and the organization of certain protests and demonstrations, definitely more quickly than could have been done between so many people in reality. Of course, we need more than just the social media being readily available to us for the protests to take place, such as real people and their attitudes of passion about a particular issue that may be bothering a social group. I believe that social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook are wonderful in the way that they help such uprisings to take place, but I don’t think that they are anything more than that.

  2. I think we need to be careful how much credit we give to social media. In no way was it not instrumental as a facilitative organisational platform for the protests, but like you said, there have been revolts in the past before we had social media. I think what people have been so taken aback by is this new form of online revolt that has been brought about by new media. Personally I think that I sit in the middle of the two sides. Social media irrefutably empowered the demonstrators in the Arab Spring to better organise and mobilise, but it was definitely not the defining factor in bringing about change in those nations.

  3. You’re probably right that the ‘revolts in Egypt would have transpired anyway,’ however, the cyber-utopian view is not saying that the protests in Egypt would not have happened without the Internet. It is about giving Twitter and Facebook their deserved value, in this situation, they signify a catalyst for change under a corrupt regime. Social media has the power to scare a government in a way that could have never transpired previously because of two-way communication. This is proven through Egypt (and other countries) shutting down Twitter and Facebook and other communicative mediums during the protests. I feel that social media is not simply an organisational tool (as the cyber-realist might suggest), it has become symbolic of something bigger, the collective power of the individual and the ability for freedom of speech no matter what the Internet lock down restrictions are in a country.
    http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/default.aspx?pageid=438&n=cyberutopianism-reflecting-on-the-arab-revolutions-too-optimistic-too-early-2011-03-31

  4. I think taking a strict view that social media played a foundation role in creating the Arab Spring completely disregards the oppression and deprivation Arab people had faced over time. Whilst Asmaa Mahfouz did play a fundamental role in the movement, I see her video more as having been the final deed; ‘the straw that broke the camels back’ so to speak. I think its important to recognize social media as having been a fundamental aspect of the Arab Spring Uprising, but only as a tool, used by emotionally charged people who had finally come together to stand up against their oppressive governments. As written by Saleem Kassim, “Social networks have broken the psychological barrier of fear by helping many to connect and share information. It has given most people in the Arab world the knowledge that they are not alone, that there are others experiencing just as much brutality, just as much hardships, just as much lack of justice. ”

    http://www.policymic.com/articles/10642/twitter-revolution-how-the-arab-spring-was-helped-by-social-media

  5. Great intergration of the blogger Asmaa Mahfouz it is a great use of youtube to spread such important news and this has definitely had an impact on the revolution. It is important to note how helpful social media has been especailly thrgough the Arab Spring and how twitter has been employed to send out so much important information to everyone. It really helps keep the world connected in such a wonderful way that everyone can show their support. Great piece 🙂

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