Thursday, April 20, 2017

GlobalMedia: Social Media Important to Arab Spring Revolution? (W15-P2) [VID] Sp17

Other than helping individuals to communicate, what grander social role does the Internet play?

For example, the Internet can be used to speak to power and cause social change.  In the quote below McPhail notes the role blogs played in challenging power in 2002.

Quote originally taken from 2nd edition of Global Communication.

So, in the United States the Internet can be used to speak to power, but what about in other countries.  For the Internet to play a strong role, there would need to be a substantial amount of Internet users in a country.  What sort of growth is there for Internet use around the world?  According to McPhail (2nd edition),

Quote originally taken from 2nd edition of Global Communication.

The 3rd edition of McPhail has some interesting, updated numbers.  What changes do you note?
  1. China, 298 million
  2. U.S. 227 million
  3. Japan, 94 million
  4. India, 81 million
  5. Brazil, 68 million.
Global Communication: Theories, Stakeholders, and Trends
(For slightly more updated Internet use stats see this site, if you're curious.)

So, Internet use is certainly on the rise around the world, more so in some countries than in others.


On the world stage, the Internet, specifically social media, has been credited with building revolutions in countries and bringing down dictators.

Take for example, protests in the former-Soviet republic of Moldova in 2009.  It was called "Moldova’s Twitter Revolution."

More recently though, when one thinks of social media and revolution, one thinks of the Arab Spring.  The Arab Spring is "a revolutionary wave of demonstrations and protests occurring in the Arab world that began on Saturday, 18 December 2010."

A Map of Arab Spring Countries
(Image used under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0,  image created by Kwamikagami)

Countries highlighted in black are countries in which the government was overthrown. From left to right the countries are Tunisia, Libya, Egypt and Yemen. Countries highlighted in other colors are countries in which some protesting occurred.

For a sense of the role social media played in Tunisia, see the following news clip.

What exactly did social media do Tunisia?  What was the role of social media?

Let's move from a specific example to a broader discussion about the role of social media has played in the Arab Spring.  Some say that social media is insignificant and others say social media play a few important roles in revolution.  What are both sides of the argument and what are the arguments on both sides.  Why, for example, would some say "no, social media doesn't play a role"?  To help answer these questions see the Zuckerman video below.

See specifically the presentation from 4:45 to 8:45 and the remainder if interested.

Note: Zuckerman is co-founded international blogging community Global Voices. Check it out of you are interested.

If you're curious and want to learn more about social media and revolution, check out
Revolution 2.0: The Power of the People Is Greater Than the People in Power: A Memoir

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