In Social Media and the Decision to Participate in Political Protest, Tufecki and Wilson observe the uprising in Egypt’s Tahrir Square. They explore the role social media and the Internet had in organizing and facilitating the protests that occurred in Egypt and Tunisia during what is known as the “Arab Spring” in 2011.
In order to understand the impact communication technology had on the uprisings, Tufecki and Wilson looked at how social media not only affected the planning and discussion leading up to the events but how it documented and globally spread the happenings after they occurred. They discovered that social media was just one component of “a new system of political communication that has evolved in North Africa and the Middle East”. In addition to social media, the rapid expansion of the Internet, and dramatic increase in citizen connectivity serve as an aid to a collective action dilemma, and thus help to “create new vulnerabilities for even the most durable of authoritarian regimes”.
However, while developments in political communication help as a coordination tool, the use of the Internet and social media did not solely determine the success of protests during the Arab Spring. As seen in Egypt on January 27th, disruption of online communication did not halt the uprisings. The government attempted to silence the protests by shutting down the Internet in hopes of cutting off communication tools, but failed to only fuel an expansion of the revolt. What are some of the different reasons the government’s attempt failed? Is this type of reaction expected during attempts to silence social and political movements?