Comparing Revolutions and Social Media’s Role

After last week’s discussion of readings that were more skeptical of social media’s role, I wanted to keep an open mind as to how I felt about social media use in revolutions. Morozov argues that Twitter makes people believe they are playing an important role, and Howard argues that social media are simply tools, which don’t quite qualify it as a digital revolution. This week we have seen the other side of the spectrum, particularly from the Egypt revolutions. Social media seems to be more useful in revolutions than many may initially think.

The Tahrir Square protests are a prime example. Tufekci and Wilson looked at a survey and found that social media was used effectively to spread new information and set up protests. The authors write, “Those who used blogs and Twitter for both general information and for communicating about the protests were more likely to attend on the first day” (375). Organization is obviously a critical part to any revolution. If people can understand a hierarchal structure within social media, organization can become even more powerful (similar to what Gladwell argues). Overall, the Egypt example seems to lend evidence that social media can play a key role in revolutions by bringing people together to communicate and organize.

However, I think you could still make the argument like Howard might, saying that this is another example of how these are simply tools and cannot quite be deemed a digital revolution. Going back to last week’s discussion, have anyone’s thoughts about social media’s role in revolutions changed? Can social media really be responsible for digital revolutions?

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1 Response to Comparing Revolutions and Social Media’s Role

  1. alfein says:

    Although it was argued in Howard’s article that social media was more than just tools, I am definitely still skeptical. Although it makes lives easier and connection faster, the ability to connect thousands of people is only the first step. Action must be taken, and action was able to be taken years before social media was ever a thing in our daily lives. Activism back then was just as prevalent and successful, and one has to think that maybe it was more motivated without the use of social media because one actually had to make a stand to make a difference. Hiding behind a computer screen does not do everything for a revolution, so no I can not say that my view of social media has changed very much from these.

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