Try to silence us, we’ll only yell louder

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?

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3 Responses to Try to silence us, we’ll only yell louder

  1. triciamittman says:

    I think that the Internet is such a fast paced, rapidly evolving entity that to try and stop it is only to create an ultimate fail. The government in the middle east (and governments worldwide) are going to try to make the internet the most beneficial for themselves, however because of the root of its creation as well as the intricate hardwirings and general nature of the Internet, it is going to be pretty impossible for users not to prevail. So while governments may be successful in specific incidents, I believe that eventually there will be ways for people all around the world to instantly communicate via the Internet.

  2. jessliu91 says:

    I think that the intervention failed because shutting down the internet is similar to having pictures spread around through cell phones about the abuses of the countries. Once the Internet is shut down, everyone knows that there is no Internet which creates awareness among citizens. Also, it shows to the people another way that the government is abusing its powers. Naturally, in a state where the government is already unpopular, it would be a bad idea to further broadcast to the public the injustices of the country. Therefore, shutting down the Internet only fueled the protesters need to fight for their freedom. Also, shutting down the Internet is unsuccessfully because of how much the government itself has been dependent on the tool. By 2010 and 2011, when the revolutions were already taking place, the Internet has already formed a stronghold on everyday, governmental activities. Therefore, when Egypt shut it down, they also were hurt by its effects and had to deal with the negative costs.

  3. brittanyverner says:

    I think that by shutting down the Internet, the government only helped ignite the fire and increase awareness. I think it is a normal reaction to technology being blocked that was once available. When your power goes out at your home, don’t you call everyone around you to see if their power was turned off too? Don’t you ask them why they think the power is off? In Egypt this is exactly what happened. Citizens left their homes to figure out why the Internet had been shut down and then after talking with protestors, many than joined the protests. Morozov said that the Internet pacify’s the people, and without it they became more aware of the unfairness around them.

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