Was Social Media’s Role Exaggerated In The Arab Spring?

by
editors
It is a common belief that the Arab Spring had a lot of contribution from the online social networking sites. People who were on Facebook, Twitter made the revolution ‘happen’. There are many who think that Facebook acted as an instigator of the Egyptian Revolution and many who claim that without these online platforms, the revolution would have not been possible.

The Arab Spring

It is a common belief that the Arab Spring had a lot of contribution from the online social networking sites. People who were on Facebook, Twitter made the revolution ‘happen’. There are many who think that Facebook acted as an instigator of the Egyptian Revolution and many who claim that without these online platforms, the revolution would have not been possible.

It seems that people have this perception, especially who took part in the online conversations about Arab people’s ordeal during the movement, that voicing opinions online helped them to make a change that changed the course of history. People from other countries who share the pre-Egyptian Revolution fate in their country also think that they should try the same approach to bring down tyrants.

There were mass protests and indeed three strong governments were overthrown in three countries but to conclude that all of this happened because of the internet remains debatable.

It all started with the self immolation of Mohammed Bouazizi which then generated a wave of protests in the area of Sidi Bouzid. Citations from the cyber revolutionaries in different news reports prove that social media helped to organize those protests when everything else was censored in their country. 

The Arab Spring

Whenever a demonstration was planned; the details were circulated with the help of Facebook and Twitter. People would read what their fellow activist had to say about the regime or about a particular government policy and everyone would share their ideas online. It basically helped them to understand that time had come for them to take part in the change which had already started to take place in their country. Social media sites were a helping hand in spreading this message. The operative word here is ‘helped’. The message, the revolution was already happening, it was just the organization and propagation which wasaided by these internet sites.

Facebook did not bring about a change in Libya; Twitter did not overthrow Hosni Mubarak.
The revolution was on its way to happen because it was bound to happen in some way or another. It was the people and several other factors which were the forces behind the historic revolution.

However, the importance of these sites as tools cannot be denied. Yet again, it must be understood that they were not the only tools.

Since the information passed through these mediums is, not only instant but, instantaneous therefore it was considered to be the ideal platform to voice opinions against the tyrannical rulers and their policies. Although in Egypt, Facebook was banned but the cyber activists criticized and then pressurized the government to unblock the site.

People took pictures and videos of the demonstrations and the atrocities of the forces who were trying to stop them. Those were circulated online through YouTube and other social networking websites which gathered a lot of support and sympathy from people all over the world. 

According to a survey report, almost nine out of ten Egyptians and Tunisians at the time of the revolution said they were using Facebook to organize protests.

Social media was also used to ask for medical assistance and for other communication purposes such as asking for important telephone numbers and exchanging frequency details with television networks to broadcast the situation.

The internet has given the Arabs a new language, a new voice. It is something that their dictators couldn’t even control. It indeed has given them a new perspective of political change, but to exaggerate its help and confuse the online world to be the instigator would be a mistake.

Carbonated.TV