It seems we’ve witnessed the rarest of phenomena, a popular revolt toppling an Arab dictator and what’s clear is that the actions taken by Tunisians are reverberating around the region.
I’m aware of the fact that people make revolutions, but it looks like social media did have an important role to play here and we can’t deny that the online world is part of the world. It has a role.
Social media played a significant role in the events that have unfolded in the past month in Tunisia, and that the revolution appears far more likely to lead to lasting political change.
Online media did play a role in helping Tunisians learn about the actions their fellow citizens were taking and in making the decision to mobilize. How powerful and significant this influence was will be something that academics will study and argue over for years to come. Scholars aren’t the only ones who want to know whether social media played a role in the end of Ben Ali’s reign – it’s likely to be a hot topic of conversation in Amman, Algiers, and Cairo, as other autocratic leaders wonder whether the bubbling cauldron of unemployment, street protests, and digital media could burn them next.
They called it the #jasminrevolt, #sidibouzid revolt, #tunisia revolt, but there is only one name to what we are witnessing which is: Social media revolution.
Social media tools (Facebook, twitter, Youtube, blogs, etc.) are an information-distribution network, not that different from the telephone or email or text messaging, except that it is real-time and massively distributed – in the sense that a message posted by a blogger can be re-published thousands of times and transmitted halfway around the world in the blink of an eye. That is a very powerful thing, in part because the more rapidly the news is distributed, the more it can create a sense of momentum, helping a revolution to “Go Viral,” as marketing types like to say.
The reality of modern media is that social-media tools can be incredibly useful for spreading the news about revolutions because it gives everyone a voice.