This week’s readings discussed the role of social media during the Arab Spring. The readings were similar to last week’s readings about the role of social media in the Iranian revolution in 2009. Two years later, with more presence on Twitter and Facebook, the revolutions in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya still raise the question if the social media is in fact effective, or overrated.
I thought Cohn’s article about the shift of the state department to social media had interesting statistics. The government recognizes that in order to have an online presence, you have to go to the people; you cannot expect people to visit websites that they do not usually visit. I found it interesting that our government hosts webinars on social media practices. This is targeting younger generations and teaching them how to voice their opinions in short, succinct messages.
Although the government finds social media abroad to be critical, Gladwell is skeptical its international presence. He argues that people were protesting and bringing down governments before Facebook was invented, and definitely before the Internet. This message resonates with last week’s readings that social media receives more credit than is due. Gladwell ends his article, “People with a grievance will always find ways to communicate with each other. How they choose to do it is less interesting, in the end, than why they were driven to do it in the first place.”
Why do you think we are so interested in Twitter as a revolution tool? Is the tool people use to revolt as interesting as the reason behind the revolt?