Social Media andthe Arab SpringKyle JerniganRichard Skinner
AboutThe Arab Spring is a revolution that began lateDecember 2010 in Tunisia when “MohamedBouazizi, a 26-year-old fruit and vegetable seller,set himself on fire after police confiscated his cartbecause he didn‟t have a permit.” He later diedfrom his injuries.Protests spread across the Middle East likewildfire soon after.The protests were fueled by social media outlets.Mainly Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
Fast InformationPopular social networks like Facebook andTwitter allow users to share their ideas andintentions at a rapid pace.“In Tunisia and Egypt, more than 80% of theusage of Facebook during the civil movementand events in early 2011 was „either to raiseawareness, share information or organize actionsrelated to the movement and events.‟”Social media was not the cause, but clearlyplayed a role in accelerating the events.
Social Media UsageTo evade detection of protest activity.Spread ideas.Recruit new members.Video the progress of the movement.Organize events.
FacebookAllows like-minded individuals to form groups,and plan protests.Event pages can be created that allow invitedmembers to set a location and time for a protestto take place.Videos can be tagged and shared.
TwitterAllows for instant updates to a mass audience.Able to write quickly and clearly from 140character limit.Smart phones allow users to access Twitter atany place and any time.
YouTubeYouTube is the most powerful tool in theprotestors arsenal.Allows users to post events, injustices andprotests immediately.More stimulating than Facebook and Twitter dueto visuals.
How the World ChangedFive regimes have toppled since the revolutionsbegan.The protests have spread to over a dozencountries30,000 have died since the protests began.Protesters in Occupy Wall Street took note of theArab Spring and used social media to theiradvantage.
DiscussionDo you think social media is useful for organizinglarge scale gatherings?What do you think is the most powerful socialmedia tool in the Arab Spring? Facebook, Twitter,or YouTube.Do you think social media has the power totopple the dictatorship in Syria?