Twitter: The Superhero of the Digital Realm

Some people have come to the conclusion that Twitter and Facebook led to the uprisings that have taken place in some North African states over the past few years and which are commonly referred to as the Arab Spring. Others claim that without these social media platforms, these revolutions may not have occurred. However, I think this is a large generalization that needs to be carefully analyzed.

Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter can be pictured as a stage for all to disseminate and inform others of information. They are a medium for the transmission of information. The medium itself does not influence people to do certain things or act in certain ways. It is the information that they carry and propagate that influences the audience to act in certain ways. Hence, these social media platforms are at most tools in facilitating the revolutions that have taken place across some North African states over the past few years. They are tools that the people have used to express discontent towards their state’s government or dictatorship. People have used these platforms to mobilize and coordinate protests. However, it is by no means the catalyst awakening the revolutions that have taken place.

Twitter and Facebook has carried information to an audience. The information that the audience has received is what motivates or leads them to act in a certain way which in the case of the Arab Spring has resulted in the mobilization of the masses in protest against the governments of North Africa such as Tunisia, Libya and Egypt.

If we look further into these uprisings in Northern Africa, we will see that it is the injustices that have occurred in that particular country that has moved the public to protest against the government. In the case of Egypt, continuing police brutality and the horrific mutilation which led to the death of a civilian named Khaled Said by police was the catalyst leading to the protests against the Mubarak government. If the people of Egypt did not take action on the information they received, then the revolution would not have taken place. Responding to the information provided is what has led to activism in these states. So it is important to understand that these social platforms act as tools to facilitate actions in the world.

Below is a video that gives us a glimpse into the revolutionists’ perception of the role of social media in the Arab Spring revolution. You’ll be surprised as to what they actually think of Twitter and Facebook.

 

Cover Image: http://bit.ly/16s0EYe

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9 thoughts on “Twitter: The Superhero of the Digital Realm

  1. Awesome post. I definitely agree with you in regards to platforms like Facebook and Twitter being vehicles to create awareness and a forum to express discontent towards their governments and oppressors. When discussing the #arabspring I dont think you can discount social media’s influence and impact but youre right to say it was the ongoing injustices in these countries that incited revolution, not the comments of one or many on social media.

    I think a reason many people make this mistake is because of how effective Facebook and Twitter are at mobilizing and coordinating large groups of people, messages have the ability to proliferate the masses quicker than any other form of communication. People tend to assume that because of this, revolutions start on social media which isnt necessarily so.

  2. these revolutions would have still occurred without social media but they would have taken a different path, without social media there is possibility these revolution would never have reached the West or if they did, they would have been briefly skimmed over in the evening news. As much a some people dont want to admit it, social media is being a key political tool in spreading messaged of protest and encouraging millions to become involved, even if this involvement is just sharing or liking a photo.

  3. I agree with your point that these mediums do “not influence people to do certain things or act in certain ways”. I believe that in the case of the Arab Spring, it merely brought all the like-minded people together and gave them an efficient means of organising the mobilisation of thousands of people. The revolutions were undeniably going to happen regardless of new media, however I think that Twitter, Facebook and Youtube definitely expedited them. It empowered individuals to see that they were not alone in wanting change and emboldened them to take action. I have seen that video before and was very interested by the stance taken. I believe people have jumped the gun in heralding social media as the liberator of these oppressed nations and critical analysis is the key in realising how much of a role was played by these new media.

  4. I feel that social media sites like Facebook and Twitter do not create but instead they aid activism. As you said these platforms carry information to people and that information influences individuals reactions. I feel that these sites allow people and individuals who where once disadvantaged when it came to freedom of speech and information to now have a sense of empowerment. They allow information to have global reach and that global reach is usually the thing that encourages and pushes change to happen, whether it be for and individual or a country as a whole. This article http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/positively-media/201010/four-ways-social-media-is-redefining-activism touches on four different ways that social media is redefining activism.

  5. I hadn’t considered the possibility that shutting down the internet had actually got more people on the street. I suppose when you think about it, social media was used to send the message around and give the cause momentum, but was taken away before it could descend into a vehicle for slacktivism. Almost like it whet their appetites and then forced them to look for an alternative. It’s interesting to think that for some the need to rebel was being filled by Facebook. It makes me wonder if it isn’t more counterintuitive that I had though. Great post and a great video.

  6. I do agree that it is harmful to label these as merely social media revolutions, however I think I take more faith in social media’s ability in assisting them. The instance you cited as an example for social media taking the backfoot and the minorities being the main instigator of the revolution I tend to disagree with. Khaled Said’s graphic and horrific death definitely had such a large part in beginning the uprisings. However, when he was originally killed, it was reported by the government that he had merely overdosed on drugs. It was not until the pictures of his death were posted online that such actions began to take place, as they were wishing to seek vengence for their friend, as seen in this article: http://arabist.net/blog/2010/6/14/the-murder-of-khaled-said.html

  7. This video is so informative and great to watch! It really ties together your post nicely. I beleive that social media has definitely made these revolutions possible – I mean without it there would be no news on twitter or facebook which is normally where I get my first peak at the news if I don’t have time to put on the t.v. Social media has helped spread world wide news in such a fantastic way making everyone connect together as a whole. Great post!

  8. I do agree that social media is merely a tool in which helps to facilitate social and political revolutions, but in saying that, an extremely powerful one! I feel as if you are trying to down play the amount of impact social media has actually had on particular revolutions such as the Arab Spring. I don’t believe that revolutions would not have happen if social networking was non-existent, although I do believe that extent of the revolution would be affected. Social media allows activists to reach a very large global audience; something that would be a lot harder if it were not for the aid of social media sites. Successful protests of thousands have been organised through social networking sites. In an article explaining of how social media has helped activists of the Arab Spring, on activist has stated that “We use Facebook to schedule the protests, Twitter to coordinate, and YouTube to tell the world.” http://www.policymic.com/articles/10642/twitter-revolution-how-the-arab-spring-was-helped-by-social-media It is the use of the word ‘world’ in which is so important. I cannot think of another way a global audience can be reached in such a short amount of time.

  9. You eloquently make a strong argument that is very convincing. I like how you have taken the critical approach in your argument and not made any apologies for standing by your views. I agree that at a national/local level there is definitely enough anger and repression to start the revolutions but consider also that this is no longer just a national protest but has become a global cause. Check out this article for more on the topic if you’d like: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/feb/05/arab-spring-global-revolution

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