In the 21 century, internet technology gave entrance to various internet tools. These tools have incorporated in bringing the world together through fast and efficient global communication. Acuff provides that the creation of internet tools such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube made information distribution from one to many, many to nationality; hence, global sharing (221). Over the decade, the internet has been used by several activists in achieving their revolution goals. Social media has been able to stimulate and unite people in fighting for liberty and democracy, thus, destroying dictatorial leadership. This paper discusses the roles, which Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have played in speeding up activists’ activities on the world stage in the past years, such as 2011 Arab spring revolution, which led to Egypt Facebook revolution of January 2011 and 2009 Twitter uprising in Iran.
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Social Media and Uprising of Activism and Revolution in the Middle East
El-Mahdi provides that the 2009 survey of 16 Arab countries, showed a tremendous increase in internet use over the last decades reaching to more than 40 million users, thus, encouraging the activists’ works (87). Social media played an innovative role in the 2011 Arab spring revolution, which took place throughout the Middle East and North Africa. The social media chatting started before the beginning of the real revolution (El-Mahdi 89). It was through social media that people shared their stories about the revolution, thus, encouraging neighboring countries. The activists were able to reach a large population through messages, encouraging them to keep fighting for their democracy.
Facebook and YouTube on Activism and Revolution in Egypt
In 2011, the Egyptians began their historic revolution which was named ‘‘the Facebook revolution.’’ During this time, large groups of people met at the streets campaigning and demanding for integrity, end of corruption, and freedom. The movement tried its best to make sure the President did not remain in power. This was made possible by serious demonstration throughout the city center, hence reaching to the governors’ offices. The increase in demonstration made the President send the army in the streets to silence demonstrators. Therefore, activists came up with other strategies of organizing their plans of action through social media. According to El-Mahdi, almost 5 million Egyptians are members of the social networking sites, which is about seven percent of the entire Egyptian population (102). With the available numbers of the Egyptians on Facebook, the activists managed to use it to send messages to various groups of people informing them about street meeting points. It was also through YouTube, the activists created ‘‘We Are All Khaled Said’’ Facebook page which exposed corruption among police forces. This page became the most liked, thus, facilitating the movement against the pitiless police.
Twitter and YouTube on Activism and Revolution in Iran
In 2009, Twitter uprising revolution in Iran happened when the presidential election results were announced leaving most of the people unsatisfied. This led to demonstration demanding for democracy, claiming that the election was fraudulent. Acuff argued that people joined in street protests throughout Iranian cities such as Shiraz and Isfahan, refusing the elected president. Even with the official veto on political activism, people went ahead fearlessly to demonstrate seeking their right (221). However, through social media such as Twitter and YouTube activists could easily progress their protests. Social media were used to display the police actions on the streets. Images and videos of the police shooting and beating people in the streets were shown to people by use of YouTube. These images facilitated the fight against the government as most of the activists became angrier with its leadership.
It was through social media that the activists worked together by exchanging views on how to advance their protests. The protest died along the way before achieving the revolution; It lasted with the elected president ruling the country (Ghannam 58). However, the fast development of the internet in Iran played a big role in uniting activists during the protests. Although the Iranians use Yahoo and Google, Twitter played immense covering during the 2009 protests. Most of the twitter hashtags such as ‘‘Iran Election’’ became trendy among Twitter users outside Iran. The simplicity, flexibility, and openness of Twitter made it possible for the hash tags to circulate without being noticed by the government. This made the commentators name the protests a ‘‘Twitter Revolution’’ even though they did not win in bringing the full revolution.
As indicated by Ghannam, internet tools such as Twitter and Facebook were of great use during Middle East political protest, but social media should not be taken as the cause of starting political revolutions (51). It is important to note that social media can possibly put efforts towards political revolutions, but only under firm conditions. For activists to succeed in social media there must be a connection of events, forces, and people to facilitate in bringing a successful political revolution.
Acuff, Jonathan. ‘‘Social Networking Media and the Revolution that Wasn’t.’’ In Media, Power, and Politics in the Digital Age: The 2009 Presidential Election Uprising in Iran. Ed. Y. Kamalipour, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefied Publishers, Inc, 2010. Print.
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El-Mahdi, Rabab. ‘‘The Democracy Movement: Cycles of Protest.’’ In Egypt: The Moment of Change. Eds. R. El-Mahdi and P. Marfleet, London: Zed Books, 2009. Print.
Ghannam, Jeffrey. ‘‘Social Media in the Arab World: Leading Up to the Uprisings of 2011.’’ A Report to the Center for International Media Assistance, 2011. Washington, D.C, 2011. Print.