This weeks readings discuss the role that social media played in aiding in democracy in the Arab Spring. Howard’s article, “The Upheavals in Egypt and Tunisia: The Role of Digital Media,” delves into the ways in which digital media played a role in “building networks, creating social capital, and, organizing political action with a speed and on a scale ever seen before” (p. 36). Everything began when a street vendor set himself on fire in Tunisia, and when the state-run media had ignored this tragic event, it sparked a nationwide protest. People began to share their opinions on the tragic situation over various digital media such as YouTube, SMS, Facebook, etc. These digital media have allowed people across the world to band together that share similar grievances or beliefs and create change in an unjust society. These social networking sites allow users to share everything from photos, to videos, to text in a real-time context.
Looking back at Morozov’s essay regarding the “Twitter Revolution” in Iran, Morozov presents a very pessimistic view on social media and the impact that sites like Twitter and Facebook have on creating social change. In comparison to Iran in 2009, why do you think Twitter and other social networking sites had less of an impact than in the events taking place in the Arab Spring in 2011? Do you think the world wasn’t ready for these sites as tools for political change?