The role of social networking tools in political uprisings is
spurring renewed debate in wake of Egypt's current unrest. Back in 2009,
a number of pundits dubbed Iran's election protests the "Twitter
Revolution" due to the flurry of organizing that occurred on the
micro-blogging service. That argument later fell out of fashion
. Now, Egypt's unprecedented move to shut down
the country's Internet has given some credence to web evangelists
defending the role of social networks. Are social networks having a
greater impact in Egypt than they did in Iran?
- Twitter and Facebook Have Been Essential "In the case of Egypt it really played a critical factor in getting out the word on how to organize," says Mohammed Jamjoom
at CNN. "There was was one group in Egypt that was one of the key
groups in getting people out on the street. ... Last week in a matter of
days they went from 20,000 fans to 80,000 fans ... We can see that these
sites were used in order to get the word out about how to bypass
checkpoints, how to get across bridges, how to get to places where
people wanted to demonstrate. So it was a critical tool in getting
people out into the streets."
- I Disagree, writes Anne Applebaum
at The Washington Post: "Note that the Egyptian government's decision
to shut down the country's Internet access over the weekend--something
it can do because Internet access is still so limited--had almost no
impact on the demonstrators. For all the guff being spoken about Twitter
and social media, the uprising in Cairo appears to be a very
old-fashioned, almost 19th-century revolution: People see other people
going out on the streets and decide to join them."
has always been involved in modern revolutions... Text-messaging helped
spawn a revolution a decade ago in the Philippines. After television
broadcasts of President Estrada being acquitted of corruption, residents
took to their mobile phones texting their outrage. The streets of
Manila quickly filled, forcing the president to resign... The 1979
Iranian revolution was “closely linked” to the audiocassette...
Tiananmen was called the “Fax Revolution” because “the rest of the world
was better informed than the rest of the neighborhood, because of the
fax machine.” Now, there’s Twitter and Facebook. Clearly, those tools
have aided this year’s uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen — despite
access to them being limited or suppressed.
- What's the Point of Arguing About This? asks new media guru Jeff Jarvis
on CNN: "This debate about the chicken and egg question and Twitter and
revolutions is not unlike that around Gutenberg's press and the
Reformation. It's really a rather meaningless debate. The point is, if
the Internet didn't matter the Egyptian government wouldn't have felt it
necessary to shut it down. China today would not have blocked
Twitter-like searches for the word Egypt."
- Ultimately, Mubarak Shot Himself in the Foot By Shutting Down the Net, writes a reader
at Talking Points Memo: "Twitter and Facebook can bring people
together, but once they connect they have the opportunity to establish
other methods of contact. Mubarak was safe while people were sitting on
their butts twittering. He is much less safe now he has taken away
Twitter and forced them to come out into the streets."
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