Social Media and the Arab Spring

Protests in Tahrir Square in February of 2011

Social change has found a new medium to flourish in the last decade thanks to the social media boom of contemporary times. People across the world now use this tool to assemble and protest, at many times bringing down lifelong regimes of cruelty and unwavering dictatorial authority.

The most consequential use of social media is perhaps the Arab Spring of 2011. This outburst of civil unrest began with Egypt and the toppling of Hosni Mubarak’s 30 year presidency. Widespread outcry against state corruption took Facebook and Twitter reliving undocumented government establishments, embezzling money, denying citizens fair trial, and an acquired personal wealth of 70 Billion according to the Guardian. Various youth groups took to the streets demanding an end to Mubarak’s reign and succeeding in forcing his resignation.

This revolution’s causes are nothing unexpected. Corruption, police brutality, and bribery are associated as causes of revolutions worldwide. However, the perpetuating element in 2011 for Egypt was social media and an overwhelmingly active youth demographic on the internet.

The power of social media has been seen in Egypt, but also by the neighboring countries which also experienced civil unrest including Libya, Syria, Tunisia, and Turkey. Egypt itself saw a second revolution only two years later with the removal of Islamic Brotherhood President Morsi.

This is to say that although social media may seem a playful and fun activity it holds power that can topple decade long regimes simply by allowing people to collect and form general opinion. How far does this power extend?

Tune in next week for Black Lives Matter and the Internet.

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