You are on page 1of 16

Surname 1 Name Professor Course Date Effects of social networking in the Arab Spring Introduction Between 2010 and

2011, the Arab World witnessed the most technologically supported revolutions mobilized through social networking websites (Duiker, 929). These websites assisted people in holding collective actions besides rising above their fears. Scores of people were motivated to join street protests thereby voicing out their concerns to their respective governments. The current worldwide age is because of the technology advancement. The independence of technology highlights the explicit weight in which the technology is provided and acclimatized. The communication technology is a power that has been provided and embraced with a strange drive. Advancement in technology has introduced mobile communication devices that let people utilize information technology anytime, anywhere. Notably, mobile technology refers to portable technology. It allows users to be productive through saving costs and time. A range of devices that enhances mobile computing include netbook computers, laptops, third generation Smartphone, personal digital assistants or palmtop computers and GPS (Global positioning System) devices (Duiker, 929). With more enhanced communication devices, social media devices are increasingly becoming more influential and versatile thereby making internet activity accessible on the go. While this is the case, social

Surname 2 media tools acts as catalysts to social and political activities while the decision to initiate change lies on people. Internet usage has become a source of information and expression in the Arab world. While some people in the Arab World believe that internet has become a censorship medium, others deem that it provides freedom of expression besides offering a channel through which people socially interact. Despite the fact that the internet has strengths of promoting flow of information and interactions, it holds staid negative and positive aspects. More importantly, social networks have become the most recent internet effective communities that most people are using all over the world. These social network sites are online spaces where users present themselves and establish or uphold connection with other people across all occupations and lifestyles. The internet has largely helped in uncovering repression and corruption in Arab governments. Particularly, social networking websites enhanced the Arab Spring that took place between 2010 and 2011 in the Middle East and North Africa. Arab Spring otherwise referred to as Arab Revolution is a radical signal of protests and demonstrations that took place in Middle East and North Africa from late 2010 to early 2011. The Arab Spring involves protests that took place in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, Libya, and Syria among other Arab countries (Duiker, 929). However, the protests were instigated by repression, authoritarianism and totalitarianism facing the Arab World population. Evidently, the population suffered from high rate of joblessness, augmented rates of corruption and human rights violations. Through social networking websites, the Arab World population found a channel to let their political opinions known to their governments. With respect to Arab World, social networks have become an important tool for

Surname 3 expressing opposition in dictatorial rules. Particularly, social networks have increasingly become digital tools that are critical to the success of modern social-change protests. The Interview Faris, a professional researcher who spend a considerable period in the Egypt, from 2007 and 2011 studying the role of social media during the Arab World protests, confirmed that social networks are digital tools that are significance in promoting social change through mobilizing people to join social-change protests. I engaged Mr. Faris in an in-depth and open-ended interview with the aim of collecting crucial data regarding the effects of social networking Websites in the Arab Spring uprisings. Among the questions posed to Faris, include: What are social networking websites and what is social networking? With respect to the mentioned question, Faris ascertained that social networks are platforms that link people together besides allowing them to engage. He added that social networking is the utilization of dedicated websites to interact informally with people through posting photographs, messages, notes, links and videos. What is the role of social networking in the Arab Society? Social networks allow members with similar affiliations or interest to connect and set up contact networks. Notably, social networks have recently become a tool to mobilize people to join social-change movements. More so, social networks assist governments in enhancing their services and information. Social networks extend governments outreach abilities and promote ability of people to interact with government thereby enhancing public service. People post their views regarding government policies as well as their dislikes of some government policies. It

Surname 4 must be noted that social networks bring individuals with like minds together and enhances information sharing. Besides peoples interactions, social networking sites are used for advertisements. Such sites include LinkedIn. Precisely, social networking sites promote cooperation among people through establishment of links across geographically dispersed and conventionally stovepiped institutions. For instance, employees of a given organization can create groups through social networks to triumph over stovepipes within institutions while on the other hand; people can create such groups to organize how to overthrow the government or to voice their discontents with the government. Faris also confirmed that the Arab Spring in Egypt and Tunisia considerably depended on social media, internet and technologies like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to mobilize people to join the protests. There is little proof that these networks played a powerful role in Libya protests given that the Libyan government tightly controlled the Internets and spread of information through technology tools. The Libyan government closely monitored online trends. For instance, Free Syrian Army posted a video on YouTube that showed an assault on AFI (Air Force Intelligence) building. Following posting of the FSA video, Google and twitter worked jointly with the Syrian government in introducing laws that censored blog posts and tweets in Syria and blocking them within the country. Despite such developments, social networking played crucial role in Tunisia and Egypt uprising. The social networking websites helped in creating a social and political change through removing from power corrupt and oppressive government, enhancing social equity, employment and freedom. The Tunisian protests were formed through informal internet networks. Particularly, the social networking arsenal aided in accelerating Tunisian revolution compelling Zine el-Abidine who ruled the country for 23 years into exile.

Surname 5 Following the overthrow of the Tunisian authoritative rule, the protests extended to Egypt on January 2011 leading to the overthrow of the 30 year old rule of Hosni Mubarak. The Egyptian protestors included Communists, Islamists and secularist. Videos and photographs of protestors were posted in the internet. The protesters used Facebook, YouTube and Twitpic to spread photographs and videos consequently making more people to join them in the protests. Tweets confirming their assembly points could be posted each minutes while over 90, 000 persons signed a page in support of protests on Facebook. Video showing the protests were posted on You Tube. Upon realizing that the internets and social media networks were behind the protests, Mubarak mounted a crackdown on cell phones and internet an aspect that imposed a considerable strain on the countrys economy. From this prospect, it is evident that social networking played a major role in the Arab Spring given its potential to mobilize people. With respect to the Arab Spring, social media played three major roles, which include: Undermining legitimacy of certain regimes Mobilizing people to join the protests Augmenting international and national exposure of atrocities of regimes How important was social networking Websites and digital technology to protesters in the Arab Spring Uprising? Notably, different components of digital technology hold divergent functions. For instance, the internet is significant in information dissemination as well as gathering of new information. Social media on the other hand functions to link people and co-ordinate individuals and groups while mobile phones are useful in taking photographs. During the protests, photographs taken through mobile phones were made available to the broad global satellite

Surname 6 television and audience. The digital tools allowed the protestors to bring jointly incongruent and remote groups besides giving then channels that allowed them to circumvent traditional media. The traditional media are often state controlled and are unwilling to transmit civil arrest news or news of those in opposition to the ruling government. Conspicuously, swift internet interaction through Facebook and twitter offered information to the people protesting giving them strategies of counteracting security forces. The internet interaction also offered maps depicting protests locations, meeting points and provided rational advice concerning safety measures in event of teargas and gunshots or any other forceful threats by security officers. The digital technology elements mounted pressure on the government. The Tunisian and Egyptian governments were not pleased with brutal pictures of repression carried out by security forces triggering the two governments to block socialnetworking websites. The government of Egypt cut all systems of communication including mobile phones and internet, an action that made protestors to join in the protests, as they could not view the protests events through their televisions and computers. The digital technology played a major role in determining the upshots of Arab Spring uprising. How crucial were the protests in North Africa and Middle East to the development of the world? The Arab Spring uprising represented the greatest change in Arab World politics. Other nations supported the dissemination of democracy in the Arab World. People chosen governments stand a chance to be supported by other countries politically and financially to assist them become stable and reap democratic government benefits. International organizations join hands in providing funds to supports such countries in promoting their impecunious

Surname 7 economies. Democratic change offers solutions to poor economies and enhances international trade. Interview Report The revolution of digital technology and social networking sites is considered to have began revolutionizing the world. This technology has been enhanced through computer technology that entails a wide range of procedures for data storing, copying and transferring, displaying and transforming it. Digital technology comes with scores of benefits in the communication and information sector as well as in other aspects of life. Digital technology and social networking are distinct in the capacity that they manipulate and transform data automatically with minimal intervention from human beings (Duiker, 928). In this regard, elements of digital technology have thus increased efficiency in all aspects of life. Notably, social networking websites have influenced the manner in which people work, communicate, socialize and interact (World Bank, 26). The wills, which triggers their usage, and the ends they are required to meet set apart usage of social networking sites in the world. The objectives and goals that man assigns to elements of digital technology particularly social networking websites cannot be eluded or performed through any other technology. Social networking sites have been used as means to connects, communicate, inform and mobilize people (Pollack and Al-Turk, 13). With respect to Arab Spring, social networking sites, represented an impenetrable vagueness, an apparent and persistent miracle that led to overthrow of key dictators in the world. They instigated and led to achievement of social and political change in the Middle East and North Africa.

Surname 8 The modern communication technology has to a great extent influenced social, political and economic actions in the contemporary world. Notably, social media has extensively influenced social and political activities through promoting protests. Social networking services enables people to interact (Richards, 28). People, who share same activities and interests across geographical, social, political and economic, easily connect through messages, links, videos, photographs and chats. The social media networks have been used to mobilize people to take actions in social or political activities (World Bank, 26). Nevertheless, while social; networking websites helped in disseminating information concerning activities, the action still rested on people, their willingness and ability to take part in political or social actions. Basing the argument on activism, activism refers to intentional activities that provide economic, political or social change. These activities call for actions and not simple writings or calls. In this case, the only notable role that social media networks such Twitter, YouTube, TwitPic and Facebook played in social or political actions was to enhance the actions that were put forth by people. They did not in anyway trigger or lead actions; they only improved and spread information to those willing to take part in the protests (World Bank, 26). Notably, social and political activism did not start with surfacing of social media networks; they started way before the establishments of media tools (Pollack and Al-Turk, 13). However, in the contemporary world, social networking websites hold a close link with protestors. They play the crucial role of informing protestors adequately regarding protest events but the need for protest does not start with social networks, but people. On the other hand, the modern world has a little bit changed where most are communicated through social media tools such as Facebook. The social networking websites played the role of informing and fostering social actions (Richards, 28)

Surname 9 Social networks are no victors in absence of actions. They support activities that can drive real changes in a given society. The possibilities and impacts of social networking and social media are worth noting. In fact, social networking includes some of the major discussed topics in the society. Social networking sites are a communication channel in which politicians use to allure their supporters. More so, governments use these channels to communicate government policies and issues facing their nations (Richards, 28). They enhance change through allowing people to follow, sign, like, forward and join the social actions that are already taking place or organized. They are powerful channels of fostering change since they have the capacity to allow information dissemination and organize social protests among other activities. Take for instance the role played by the media in Arab Awakening, in Egypt, Tunisia and Syria. It is evident that the protests yielded positive results and led to the conquering of longterm dictatorial and repressive regimes (World Bank, 26). Notwithstanding, the varying opinions regarding the correct use and impacts of social networking sites and other forms of digital technologies, the fact is that these networks play a crucial role in enhancing social and political changes. While social activism actions requires actions that can be demonstrated and recognized in order for change to be realized, social networking websites are a catalyst and they instigate the needed actions. From this perspective, social networking sites hold the prospective to put in order, put in the picture and draw together people to fight for societal and political changes (Diamond and Plattner, 3). Predominantly, revolutions are set in motion by people and supported through media tools or networks. Actually, media tools make it possible for the defenseless to come together, organize and add voices to their issues. Protestors get information, strategies and connect through media tools. It is indubitable that social media has a great effect on political concerns

Surname 10 and protests in the contemporary world particularly in the Arad Spring protests that instigated democracy in several of Middle East and North Africa countries (Duiker, 928). Nevertheless, the roots of these actions are with social websites and other digital technologies acting as catalysts to social and political activities. It is evident that most of Arab Spring protests were enhanced through information technology (Merlini and Roy, 85). Developments in information technology are constantly transforming socialization, communication and interaction. Notably, the explosion of IT has changed the culture of workplace and socialization; it has introduced proliferation of virtual association and surfacing of global connections that links people across distance (World Bank, 26). Most nations are facing challenges when trying to voice out their concerns. However, when technical and social systems are jointly optimized, governments and people benefit from IT. Particularly, the internet and social networking websites compel and enable transformation of countries. More so, social networking websites and other digital technologies provides flexibility in relation to place and time (Diamond and Plattner, 3). With respect to Arab Spring protests, social networking established considerable benefits, which include solidarity during protests, quick reaction to strategies of security forces and empowered people during the protests. These websites helped in saving time and cost during provision of crucial information, increased alertness and effectiveness of protestors. Social media tools enhanced Arab Revolution but the decision to start and take part in the protests rested on the Arab World population. Particularly social media tools called for supports after the decision to start protests had been made. In this regard, social networking websites do not take full credit as to why the Arab Spring bored positive results of overthrowing their dictatorial rulers (Diamond and Plattner, 3). The social media particularly, the social networking

Surname 11 websites are long-standing tool that reinforces public sphere and the civil society. For instance, Tunisia is a good example of a country that used social networking websites among other social media tools to cast out a tyrant. Nonetheless, social networking websites or any other digital technology cannot solely bring democracy in a country (Richards, 28) For instance in Libya, social media did not play a major role in the protests since there was no intervention from other countries. The government regulated social media and other systems of communication in Libya. As a result, not much regarding the protests that lasted for over three months culminated or gained support from the social media (Diamond and Plattner, 3). The extent of penetration of internet depends on the regulation policies put forward by different states. Countries experiencing minimal internet penetration cannot mobilize people to take part in protests. In Libya, the government blocked the use of social networking websites and other social medial tools. More so, the government in Egypt in corporation with Vodaphone blocked mobile interactions during the protests. Social media tools succeeded in creating change through intervention of the outside nations (World Bank, 26). Nevertheless, some government turned off access to internet and hacked Facebook accounts to obtain key information regarding the dissents. Besides, the significance use of social media tools in fighting for democracy and realization of social and political change in Arab World, the social networks websites intensified economic strain in the Arab World. Given that both Egypt and Libya used social media for social interaction and business purposes, dismantling the networks triggered considerable social and economic loss in the short period that social media remained shut down.

Surname 12 Literature Review The book by World Bank highlights the role of social networking websites in the Arab Spring. The author asserts that in the Arab world, social media tools have unsettled the regions political and social traditions since 2000. The greatest effect of social media tool came between 2010 and 2012 when social media played a crucial role in Arab Spring revolutions in Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, Yemen, Libya, Bahrain and other countries in the Arab World. The author cites one of the Egyptian protestors who confirmed that they used Facebook to schedule the demonstrations; Twitter was used to coordinate while YouTube was used to disseminate information across the globe (World Bank, 29). Following the initiating call to demonstrate posted on a Facebook page, the protests immediately began. This led to the rise in the number of Facebook users, and so were Twitter users. The book by World Bank offers information regarding the role of social networking websites in the Arab Spring. Based on the information included in this book, it is evident that social networking websites played a crucial role in the Arab Spring. Nevertheless, the author asserts that the websites were used for organizing and bringing people together but not as initiators of the protests. As result, the websites played a role in organizing, informing but the decision to take part in the protests came from people. Richards ascertains that modern communications technology is increasingly allowing populations to connect in horizontal networks that transcend national jurisdictions and borders. Media, social networking and other communication facilities such Skype, YouTube and Facebook allow people to communicate besides sharing information point-to-point or collectively. It is extremely difficult to have power over information and avoid details from being viewed by the public (Richards, 28). According to the Richards, the effects of modern technology were realized in the Arab Spring uprisings where social networking websites

Surname 13 facilitated dissemination of information regarding the protests and police actions against demonstrators. While instant social networks can become risky, they played a major role in creating democratic change in the Arab World. Duiker highlights major world developments. Particularly, the he discusses advances and effects of telecommunication. He cites internet as the most transformative communication tool. Internet is defined as a network of minor interlocking Web pages holding sites devoted to commerce, news, academic scholarship and entertainment. Internet has led to introduction of new form of communication such Twitter, a communication tool that allows individuals to send instant updates (Duiker, 928). Particularly, the Duiker confirmed that developments in communication are affecting present events. He asserts that Smartphones and other communication gargets played a major role in the Arab Spring where through social networking sites; protestors informed others about the organized protests through sending instant updates. Diamond and Plattner confirms that usage of social networking websites in Syria is an apparent demonstration of how social website users are using these communication channels to expose injustices to minorities. According to Diamond and Plattner, social networks websites help people in connecting with one another (Diamond & Plattner, 3). However, this websites were frequently reported and blocked in Syria. Despite their role in the ousting authoritarian regimes, it is evident that people promoted the protests given that when the government managed to block these sites, the protests continued.

Surname 14 According to Merlini and Roy, minority formulates most information on Twitter while the majority of people use Twitter to get news. Social networking websites undeniably had a role to play in the events following the Arab revolt. Merlini and associate confirm that social media tools played a critical role in the Arab Spring Uprisings. However, through looking at other clear indicators, social media was not the only tool of organizing the protests. Instead long-term issues of regional social and economic dispossession, discontent with state leadership, lack political representation and ability, human rights issues and the influence of sundry regional media led to the organization of the protests (Merlini and Roy, 85). Therefore, social networking websites only enhanced the protests but did not initiate them. Pollack and Al-Turk states that it was rather unanticipated to learn that the population of Arab world was not happy with their rulers. The most salient feature in the Arab uprising was the involvement of social media. Without the need of traditional media, the public offered new instruments of mobilizations such as the Internet, social media, and satellite television among other information technologies to disseminate information. Particularly, the social networking sites empowered the public besides linking them together in organization of protests and demonstrations. In this regard, other factors such people and other communication technologies besides social networking sites played a crucial role in the Arab Spring uprisings (Pollack and Al-Turk, 13). Conclusion Social media tools particularly social networking websites have increasingly become rampant in the modern world (Duiker, 928). Most people are adapting this type of social media to ensure that they remain informed on the events taking place in their countries and the entire

Surname 15 world. More importantly, the strength of social networking sites has played a major role in the political arena. The positive impact of social networking in the Arab uprisings cannot be denied. During the Arab Spring particularly, the Tunisian and Egypt uprising, people received information via YouTube, Twitter and Facebook. Protestors were frequently informed about the protests, meeting points and measures to be taking during protests through Facebook, YouTube and Twitter updates (Richards, 28). People from far and near who were following the protests via social networking websites were regularly informed about police brutality and state oppression consequently spreading the news about the autocratic regimes (Merlini and Roy, 85). Notably social networking websites assisted protestors in creating links that disseminated information concerning revolution to other nations in North Africa and Middle East. The positive effects of the Tunisian revolution prompted the Egyptian uprising. While credit should be awarded to social networking websites because of their role in organizing and implementing the Arab Spring uprising, credit should also be awarded to the people who initiated and took part in the protests. This is because despite the role played by social media tools in creating political and social change in Arab World, it took people to instigate the change. The reason for protest was not social media tools and the decision to initiate the protests lied on people. It is therefore apparent that, that social networking websites acted as catalysts to social and political activities but not as the initiators of these activities or change.

Surname 16 Work Cited Cesare Merlini and Olivier Roy. Arab society in revolt: The Wests Mediterranean challenge. New York: Brookings Institution Press, 2012. Julian Richards. A guide to the national security: Threats, responses and strategies. London: Oxford University Press, 2012. Kenneth Pollack and Akram Al-Turk. The Arab awakening: America and the transformation of the Middle East. New York: Brookings Institution Press, 2012. Larry Diamond and Marc F. Plattner. Social media and the struggle for democracy. Texas: JHU Press, 2012. William J. Duiker. World history: Since 1500. New York: Cengage Learning, 2012. World Bank. Information and communications for development 2012: Maximizing mobile. New York: World Bank Publications, 2012.