The Revolution Behind The Revolution The Role of Social Media During the Arab Spring Faisal J. Abbas 29 September 2011
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Revolutions: What we know about them <ul><li>Have always occurred through human history </li></ul><ul><li>Happened before ‘social media’ was invented </li></ul><ul><li>Are not specific to one culture/nation </li></ul><ul><li>If successful, will result in either a complete change from one constitution to another or a modification of an existing constitution. </li></ul>
Revolutions: Common Reasons behind them <ul><li>Economic downturns </li></ul><ul><li>Repressive autocratic regimes </li></ul><ul><li>A surplus of the dispossessed </li></ul><ul><li>High levels of corruption </li></ul><ul><li>Blocking expression of frustration and dissent </li></ul><ul><li>All of the Above (as in most Arab countries!) </li></ul>
So the question is… What is different about the 2011 Arab Revolutions?
“ To those in power: you are facing a generation which communicates in a way you don’t understand” - Google’s Wael Ghonim - Political Activist/Egypt Interview with Al Arabiya 11.2.2011
Yet, ‘Those in Power’ seem to only want to communicate their way
The ‘Those in Power’ Traditional Communication Model Owned/Sponsored Media ‘ Those in Power’ (Autocratic Leaders) People
However, the dynamics have been changing since the 90’s thanks to Satellite Television and broadband ‘ Those in Power’ (Autocratic Leaders) People Owned/Sponsored Media
… and this is just the beginning! The following are the latest estimates* <ul><li>40 million Arab internet users in 16 Arab countries in 2009 </li></ul><ul><li>17 million people in the Arab region on Facebook, 5 million in Egypt alone in 2010 </li></ul><ul><li>In 2009, Arab region had 35,000 active blogs, up to 40,000 in 2010. </li></ul><ul><li>Arab users expected to rise to 100 million by 2015 </li></ul><ul><li>*Centre for International Media Assistance/National Endowment for Democracy, 2011. Social Media in the Arab World Report. [online] Washington,D.C: CIMA (Published 2011) </li></ul><ul><li>Available at: <http://http://cima.ned.org/sites/default/files/CIMA-Arab_Social_Media-Report_2.pdf> [Accessed 20 February 2011]. </li></ul>
So what was the ‘contribution’ of ‘social media’? <ul><li>People don’t just watch a story on TV or read it in a paper anymore. </li></ul><ul><li>People have instant and on-demand access to a story or video </li></ul><ul><li>People ‘interact’: they comment, share, create ‘groups’ and ultimately ‘events’. </li></ul><ul><li>People can compare facts and leapfrog government censorship </li></ul>
Thus, it could be argued that the ‘social media’ main contribution is speeding up the ‘Domino Effect’
Case-Study <ul><li>Look at how quickly the ‘self-immolation’ phenomena has spread since one man set himself on </li></ul><ul><li>fire in Tunisia </li></ul><ul><li>on 17 December 2010? </li></ul>Mohammad Bouazizi 1984 - 2011
Final Word “ The Internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn't understand, the largest experiment in anarchy that we have ever had” - Eric Schimdt – CEO, Google (August 2010)
One thing is for sure, we could never know what to expect next!