Social Media and Social movements in The Arab World A case study of The 25th January Revolution in Egypt
Professor. Hosni M. Nasr (Ph.D)
Sultan Qaboos University, Sultante of Oman
Extended Abstract:This paper analyzes the role of the online social networks especially Facebook during the revolution that erupted in Egypt in January 2011. Through content analysis of a sample of pages, groups and events, I discuss how people exchanged information before, during, and after the 18 days revolution that ended by the resignation of former president Hosni Mubarak. The article also analyzes online discussions and media coverage. Particular emphasis is given to the role of the social media, such as Facebook tools and services, which enable citizens to interact or share content online.
The analysis shows that during the revolution, the social media functioned as a political organizer and alternative mass medium for citizen communication or participatory journalism. In this research, I argue that the social media generated an alternative public Sphere for Egyptian activists, which widened the perspectives about the revolution and enabled new kinds of citizen participation in discussing the situation. The success of the revolution in Egypt also showed the significance of the social media as a horizontal form of information sharing. The study concludes that the experience of using social media networks to wage and support the political revolution has important implications on the process of democratization in Egypt.
The January 25th revolution in Egypt was an incredible achievement by its people and a truly inspiring example of the power of peaceful protests. Meanwhile a debate continues to rage as to the exact role played by social media.
The call for a Day of Rage on January 25, 2011 that ignited the Egyptian revolution originated from a Facebook page. Many have since asked: Is this a “Facebook Revolution?” It is high time to put this question to rest and insist that political and social movements belong to people and not to communication tools and technologies. Facebook, like cell phones, the internet, and twitter, does not have agency, a moral universe, and is not predisposed to any particular ideological or political orientation. They are what people make of them. Facebook is no more responsible for Egypt’s revolution than Gutenberg’s printing press with movable type was responsible for the Protestant Reformation in the fifteenth century. Nevertheless it is valid to say that neither the Reformation nor the pro-democracy rights’ movements sweeping Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and much of the region would have come about at this juncture without these new tools. Digital communications media have revolutionized learning, cognition, and sociability and facilitated the development of a new generational behavior and consciousness.
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