In Demystifying the Arab Spring by Lisa Anderson, she argues that social media was not a critical factor in the uprisings in the Arab Spring. Rather she believes that each revolt was unique and thus the more important factor to look at is why and how protesters used specific techniques to their advantage in their differing situations. However, I think it is hard to deny the importance of these digital media tools for communication as they allowed the people to be the ones communicating the stories as well as allowing them to organize.
While it is true that each uprising was defined by different challenges and wants, I do not fully agree with Anderson when she claims that since protests have occurred in the past without social media that the Arab Spring would have occurred as well without its presence. Since these last revolts times have changed and these forms of technology have become important resources all over the world. In The Role of Digital Media by Howard and Hussain, they point out mobile phones, the Internet, and social media were one of the few consistencies across the differing Arab revolts. These technologies were used to build networks, create social capital, and organize political action at a scale and at a speed that was never thought possible before. Howard and Hussain recognize that while there had been dissent before the Internet, the Internet helped to organize that dissent. This is especially important to recognize to show the importance of digital media tools for even though each revolt had different goals in minds, they all resembled each other due to this organizing ability, which was due in large part to social media.
Howard and Hussain emphasis the effect and risk people take by using the Internet and other digital media tools when they mentioned the death of Khaled, a blogger, who was beaten to death for exposing the police’s corruption, which sparked a movement on Facebook. The discussion of the use of this kind of digital expression was brought up in Tufekci and Wilson’s article when they mention how many people consider this action “cheap talk,” “slacktivism,” or “clicktivism.” However, I agree with them and believe that these actions should not be regarded in this way for, under the conditions of revolt and the situations they were in, the use of digital media tools seem just as costly as other actions. Do you believe that during these revolts the use of digital media for action should be considered slacktivism? How would this type of digital media use be seen as compared to digital media use for political movements?