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The Emerging Role of Social Media in Political and Regime Change
(Released March 2012)

  by Rita Safranek  


Key Citations



Key Citations Short Format Full Format
  1. The human network: social media and the limit of politics

    Brynnar Swenson.

    Baltic journal of law and politics, Vol. 1, No. 1, Jan 2012, pp. 102-124.

    Internet-based social media sites have been increasingly used to organize political activism across the globe. Given recent events in Egypt where Wael Ghonim's role as social networker, Google executive, and activist coalesced at the center of an information-based revolution, or the much publicized use of BlackBerry Messenger to organize protests, riots, and looting in England, it is difficult to ignore the effect social networks have had on major political events. Beginning with a review of some of the key historical and conceptual accounts of the political implications of the Internet and social media over the last ten years, this article provides an analysis of how the political use of social media in recent events in Egypt and England has been represented by the mainstream western media.

  2. A social network as information: The effect of system generated reports of connectedness on credibility on Twitter

    David Westerman, Patric R. Spence and Brandon Van Der Heide.

    Computers in Human Behavior, Vol. 28, No. 1, Jan 2012, pp. 199-206.

    Social media have gained increased usage rapidly for a variety of reasons. News and information is one such reason. The current study examines how system-generated cues available in social media impact perceptions of a source's credibility. Participants were asked to view one of six mock pages that varied both the number of followers and the ratio between followers and follows on the page and report their perceived source credibility. Data indicate that curvilinear effects for number of followers exist, such that having too many or too few connections results in lower judgments of expertise and trustworthiness. Having a narrow gap between the number of followers and follows also led to increased judgments of competence. Implications of these findings are discussed, along with limitations of the current study and directions for future research. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2011 APA, all rights reserved)(journal abstract)

  3. "Into the future, darkly."

    Mark Hamm and Chris Greer.

    Crime, Media, Culture, Vol. 7, No. 1, Apr 2011, pp. 3-4.

    As Volume 7 Issue 1 of Crime, Media, Culture leaves for our presses from New Delhi, winds carrying radioactive iodine from Japan's stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant are headed for Tokyo. Confronted with challenges never before encountered, and social institutions no longer a viable frame of reference for human action, people the world over are seeking alternative ways to organize their lives. Faced with ecological disaster, government corruption, police repression, torture and economic dead ends, millions leave their homes each year for promised lands abroad. Others remain and organize themselves into resistance movements. Today, these activists are turning more and more to social media to bring attention to their growing discontent. Facebook is used to schedule protests, Twitter to coordinate events, and the world is simultaneously informed, enthralled and scandalized through YouTube and Wikileaks. Confronted with challenges never before encountered, and social institutions no longer a viable frame of reference for human action, people the world over are seeking alternative ways to organize their lives. CMC Volume 7 Issue 1 is a testament to those risks. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2011 APA, all rights reserved)

  4. Adult Education and the Social Media Revolution

    Marvin LeNoue, Tom Hall and Myron A. Eighmy.

    Adult Learning, Vol. 22, No. 2, Spr 2011, pp. 4-12.

    The advent of Web 2.0 and the spread of social software tools have created new and exciting opportunities for designers of digitally-mediated education programs for adults. Whether working in fully online, blended, or face-to-face learning contexts, instructors may now access technologies that allow students and faculty to engage in cooperative and collaborative learning despite being separated in space and time. By supporting the use of interactive methods and multi-media materials, social software offers educators more ways to engage learners than any preceding educational technology. Social software also empowers curriculum designers to more effectively accommodate many of the core principles of adult learning than was possible with earlier e-learning technologies. This article offers a basic introduction to some new possibilities in the design and delivery of digitally-mediated education, and an overview of the compatibility between the capabilities of social software and the principles of adult education.

  5. After Egypt: The Limits and Promise of Online Challenges to the Authoritarian Arab

    Marc Lynch.

    Perspectives on Politics, Vol. 9, No. 2, June 2011, pp. 301-310.

    The uprisings which swept across the Arab world beginning in December 2010 pose a serious challenge to many of the core findings of the political science literature focused on the durability of the authoritarian Middle Eastern state. The impact of social media on contentious politics represents one of the many areas which will require significant new thinking. The dramatic change in the information environment over the last decade has changed individual competencies, the ability to organize for collective action, and the transmission of information from the local to the international level. It has also strengthened some of the core competencies of authoritarian states even as it has undermined others. The long term evolution of a new kind of public sphere may matter more than immediate political outcomes, however. Rigorous testing of competing hypotheses about the impact of the new social media will require not only conceptual development but also the use of new kinds of data analysis not traditionally adopted in Middle East area studies. Adapted from the source document.

  6. After the Facebook Revolution: Whither Egypt?

    Mushahid Ali.

    Singapore: S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, 2011, 2

    After the ouster of President Mubarak by the Tahrir Square revolution the Army has taken over control. Given the popular confidence in it will the Army retain its hold and produce the next president of Egypt?

  7. Clashes on Facebook Over Calls for Revolution in Qatar

    L. Barkan.

    Washington, DC: MEMRI: Middle East Media Research Institute, 2011, 7

    Offers an overview of the campaign for the revolution in Qatar. Explains that a campaign has been launched on Facebook calling for a revolution against the regime of Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Aal Thani. Its organizers are protesting against the corruption rampant in the regime and the absence of real political and party life in Qatar, as well as the lack of coverage of Qatar's domestic affairs on the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera TV. They also criticized the country's friendly relations with Israel and the U.S. References.

  8. Digital distrust: Uzbek cynicism and solidarity in the Internet age

    Sarah Kendzior.

    American Ethnologist, Vol. 38, No. 3, Aug 2011, pp. 559-575.

    In this article, I examine how Uzbek exiles have used the Internet to attempt to forge solidarity in a political culture of cynicism and distrust. Tracing the development of internal divisiveness in the Uzbek political opposition, I show how cynicism has been reconstituted as an essential part of Uzbek political integrity, and then I examine how some dissidents have attempted to counteract this cynical political culture through the online promotion of a new political repertoire. I argue that the Internet changes patterns of political dissent by allowing greater interaction between geographically dispersed, like-minded parties but also allows the doubts and antagonisms that existed within those parties to be more easily perceived and, in some cases, exacerbated. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2011 APA, all rights reserved)(journal abstract)

  9. Digital media and the personalization of collective action: Social technology and the organization of protests against the global economic crisis

    W. Lance Bennett and Alexandra Segerberg.

    Information, Communication & Society, Vol. 14, No. 6, Sep 2011, pp. 770-799.

    Changes related to globalization have resulted in the growing separation of individuals in late modern societies from traditional bases of social solidarity such as parties, churches, and other mass organizations. One sign of this growing individualization is the organization of individual action in terms of meanings assigned to lifestyle elements resulting in the personalization of issues such as climate change, labour standards, and the quality of food supplies. Such developments bring individuals' own narratives to the fore in the mobilization process, often requiring organizations to be more flexible in their definitions of issues. This personalization of political action presents organizations with a set of fundamental challenges involving potential trade-offs between flexibility and effectiveness. This paper analyses how different protest networks used digital media to engage individuals in mobilizations targeting the 2009 G20 London Summit during the global financial crisis. The authors examine how these different communication processes affected the political capacity of the respective organizations and networked coalitions. In particular, the authors explore whether the coalition offering looser affiliation options for individuals displays any notable loss of public engagement, policy focus (including mass media impact), or solidarity network coherence. This paper also examines whether the coalition offering more rigid collective action framing and fewer personalized social media affordances displays any evident gain in the same dimensions of mobilization capacity. In this case, the evidence suggests that the more personalized collective action process maintains high levels of engagement, agenda focus, and network strength. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)(journal abstract)

  10. Discourses of technology and liberation: state aid to net activists in an era of Twitter revolutions

    Christian Christensen.

    Communication review, Vol. 14, No. 3, Jul 2011, pp. 233-253.

    Although the use of social media for the purposes of protest organization and dissent in Iran, Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya was widely reported by bloggers, journalists, and academics, these reports were rarely rooted in detailed research. In fact, the terms Twitter Revolution and Facebook Revolution have now been called into question as overly techno-utopian, and as ignoring the use of social media by authoritarian regimes for the purposes of repression. Despite this lack of concrete evidence, representatives of the Swedish state were quick to declare social media as key tools in the battles over freedom of speech rights and democratic change. On January 21, 2011, the Swedish Minister for International Development Cooperation published an opinion piece in the Expressen newspaper, titled, Net Activists Are the New Democracy Fighters. The response of the Swedish administration-primarily how the administration made clear links between technological innovation and democratic/social change, and translated those links into concrete action in the form of aid-raises a number of questions regarding the ways in which a powerful stakeholder appears to assume a causal relation among technology use, the expansion of access to information, and democratic change. The purpose of this article is to examine how the technology discourse forwarded by the current Swedish government-in policy documents and public statements-reflects a liberation technology perspective on the relation between technology and sociopolitical change in developing countries, particularly in relation to possible foreign aid to net activists. Reprinted by permission of Harwood Academic Publishers, Taylor and Francis Ltd

  11. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube—and Democracy

    Bob Samuels.

    Academe, Vol. 97, No. 4, 07 2011, np.

    In fall 2009, this author participated in mass protests in California against tuition increases, furloughs, state budget cuts, and mass layoffs of schoolteachers, faculty members, and other public-sector workers. He states that what was so inspiring about these demonstrations was their formation of a new model of coalition politics. Taking the lead from the structure of new media activism, a coalition of students, faculty members, workers, and parents joined together online and off-line to confront a set of problems facing contemporary society. Ultimately, the actions led to a $500 million increase in funding for the University of California. In this article, the author discusses the University of California protest movement, which showed that not only do social media affect social groups, but social groups also shape the media.

  12. Friends in revolution

    Tina Rosenberg.

    International Herald Tribune, No. 02948052, Jul 15, 2011, pp. 6.

    This is why I am so skeptical of the much-discussed phenomenon of Facebook Revolution. "Facebook Revolution" is shorthand for the use of digital technology in creating sweeping social change in repressive societies. The idea has gotten a huge amount of attention. People in the West began referring to Iran's 2009 uprising as the Twitter Revolution. Egypt's hundreds of thousands of young democracy activists were supposedly organized via Facebook. That's not to say that online communication isn't useful. It is, but its uses are limited. I agree with Srdja Popovic, the Belgrade-based executive director of CANVAS, a group that travels the world teaching democracy movements how to engage in nonviolent struggle — ideas based on the successful movement, Otpor!, that Serb students organized in the late 1990s that was instrumental in defeating Slobodan Milosevic. The Egyptian April 6 Youth Movement's 2008 strike was a failure — despite its tens of thousands of Facebook friends — because the organizers at that point had no idea of what to do with these people. Later, they learned the strategies — largely from Popovic's group. CANVAS taught them the importance of maintaining strict nonviolent discipline, treating the police as allies-in-waiting rather than enemies, and showing unity — each group putting away its own flag to wave only the Egyptian flag, and Christian and Muslims protecting each other as they prayed.

  13. Grasp of social media not enough to instigate change in Lebanon

    Patrick Galey.

    McClatchy – Tribune Business News, Mar 16, 2011, np.

    Mroue said that the sectarian and divided nature of Lebanese youth partisanship rendered it difficult to use social media to mobilize young people through a common goal, as seen in protests this year which ousted Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

  14. Information Age: Egypt's Revolution by Social Media


    Wall Street Journal, No. 00999660, Feb 14, 2011, pp. A.19-A.19.

    Typical of web marketers anywhere, he's quoted in corporate press releases promoting the ArabNet conference, creating Google AdWords vouchers for small businesses ("a great and unique way to reach our audience and give an added value for businesses in the region") and launching an Arabic-language website to teach people how to search, email and chat. After 30 years of emergency rule, abuses by police and state security officials are so common that the case was a ready rallying point for a diverse network of outraged Egyptians.

  15. International: No sign of an end; Tunisia's troubles


    The Economist, Vol. 398, No. 8716, Jan 15, 2011, pp. 49-49.

    Just over a month ago few would have thought that, among the Arab world's many unstable and unpopular governments, Tunisia's would be the next to experience an uprising. The country's president, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, seized power in a "medical coup" against his ageing predecessor in 1987 and turned Tunisia into a police state known for its efficiency. Occasional worries about authoritarian tendencies in more relaxed North African states such as Morocco were frequently referred to as "Ben-Alisation". Yet Mr Ben Ali is now facing a serious attempt to foment an Eastern European-style velvet revolution. Since December 17th, when a young man in the city of Sidi Bouzid set himself on fire to protest against chronic unemployment and police brutality, spontaneous protests have spread from the poor interior to more prosperous coastal cities. Police have in some cases used live ammunition to cow demonstrators. The government puts the death toll at two dozen, but opposition groups say it is several times higher. On January 11th protests reached the centre of Tunis, the capital, and Mr Ben Ali responded by ordering in the army and imposing a night-time curfew. Unbowed, tens of thousands took to the streets next day in Sfax, Tunisia's second city. Schools and universities have been shut until further notice, a move that may only free even more young people to join the protests.

  16. Internet Freedom: A Foreign Policy Imperative in the Digital Age

    Richard Fontaine and Will Rogers.

    Washington, DC: Center for New American Security, 2011, 52

    From Egypt to Tunisia to Iran, the world has borne witness to the power of the Internet and new digital tools used to communicate across borders, organize protests, topple some dictators and possibly strengthen others — actions that all affect US foreign policy. This report examines Internet freedom through the lens of American foreign policy and explores two central questions: What does access to an open Internet mean for US foreign policy, and what should the United States do about it? Figures.

  17. It's a social media revolution in the Mid East

    Wan A. Hulaimi.

    New Straits Times, Feb 27, 2011, pp. 21.

    Most rely on Twitter, many pluck segments from YouTube, and there the loop begins and ends and begins: mobile phones recording street battles, the sound of gunfire and folk scrambling for safety and then they are picked up by news disseminators and watched again by those whose mobile phones have became the message.

  18. Media and the Arab uprisings of 2011: Research notes

    Simon Cottle.

    Journalism, Vol. 12, No. 5, Jul 2011, pp. 647-659.

    In the opening months of 2011 the world witnessed a series of tumultuous events in North Africa and the Middle East that soon became known as the Arab uprisings. What is striking about them is not only their historical momentousness and stunning speed of succession across so many countries, but also the different ways in which media and communications became inextricably infused inside them. Indeed some have been so bold as to label them as the 'Twitter Revolutions' or 'Facebook Revolutions.' This, however, does less than justice to the media complexities involved. This essay sets out to capture something of the broader, overlapping and interpenetrating ways in which media systems and communication networks have complexly conditioned and facilitated these remarkable historical events and communicated them around the world. In this way it aims to broaden the frame of reference for future in-depth, scholarly research. [Reprinted by permission of Sage Publications Ltd., copyright holder.]

  19. The Middle East Crisis Part II — Social Networks Harnessed by Protest Movement in Egypt

    Y. Yehoshua.

    Washington, DC: MEMRI: Middle East Media Research Institute, 2011, 7

    Offers an overview of the Egyptian protest movement's use of social networks in organizing anti-government demonstrations. References.

  20. MIDDLE EAST: Social media outwit authoritarianism


    Oxford Analytica Daily Brief Service, Feb 09, 2011, np.

    Social media and the Arab uprisings. Use of social media in Tunisia and Egypt has highlighted their importance as tools for circumventing government dominance of the media sector and restrictive freedom of association laws. The ability of protestors to communicate and mobilise via social media raises questions as to whether such tools have brought about a permanent shift in the balance of power away from authoritarian governments.

  21. New Media and Political Socialization of Teenagers: The Case of the 2008 Candlelight Protests in Korea

    Seongyi Yun and Woo Young Chang.

    Asian Perspective, Vol. 35, No. 1, 2011, pp. 135-162.

    In this study, we examine the political socialization of teenagers by focusing on the 2008 Candlelight Protests in Korea, with particular emphasis on the implication of technological variables of modern society — in this case, new media. In the 2008 protests, we find that the protests were triggered by online communities (known as cafes in Korea) for, in part, the purposes of entertainment and amusement The leading actors were middle and high school students; participation at both personal and organizational levels supplemented each other to amplify the impact of the protests. Survey results reveal the Internet as a primary tool that teenagers use to obtain political information, organize, and mobilize. As well, females were more aggressive in their participation, as found from the differences in Internet usage trends between teenage girls and boys. This case illuminates the potential of new media in bringing revolutionary change to the political socialization patterns of teenagers. Adapted from the source document.

  22. Political participation of teenagers in the information era

    Yun Seongyi and Chang Woo-Young.

    Social Science Computer Review, Vol. 29, No. 2, May 2011, pp. 242-249.

    This study intends to examine the environments and the characteristics of political participation of teenage political participation. The 2008 Candlelight Protests of Korea is used as the case of this study. Traditionally, teenagers in Korea have been known to disengage from political affairs because they are usually worn by intense academic challenge and competition. In that sense, participation of teenagers at such a large scale shown in the 2008 Candlelight Protests of Korea can only be explained as a huge shift in political preference of teenagers and conventional social norms. In that sense, the case of 2008 Candlelight Protests of Korea has shown great implications for the political potential of new media, which is capable of revolutionizing the political socialization patterns of youth. Survey results demonstrated that the Internet had become an important tool from which the teenagers collected political information and channels which they used to organize and mobilize. Numbers also showed that the degree of the youth's sociopolitical interests were higher than the adult's. Another notable fact found was that female students showed more aggressive involvement than male students and this could be explained by the difference in the Internet usage pattern between male and female students. In using media, adolescent girls displayed more relationship and objective-oriented behaviors than the boys. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2011 APA, all rights reserved)(journal abstract)

  23. The Political Power of Social Media: Technology, the Public Sphere, and Political Change

    Clay Shirky.

    Foreign Affairs, Vol. 90, No. 1, Jan/Feb 2011, pp. 28-I.

    Discussion of the political impact of social media has focused on the power of mass protests to topple governments. In fact, social media's real potential lies in supporting civil society and the public sphere-which will produce change over years and decades, not weeks or months. The U.S. government should maintain Internet freedom as a general goal, not as a tool for achieving immediate policy aims in specific countries. [PUBLICATION ABSTRACT]

  24. Protest 2.0: online interactions and Aboriginal activists

    Theresa Lynn Petray.

    Media, Culture & Society, Vol. 33, No. 6, Sep 2011, pp. 923-940.

    Social movements, like every other aspect of life, have become increasingly reliant on the internet for networking, information sharing and coalition building. This is the case even for disadvantaged groups with few resources and less capacity for utilizing computers and the internet. Aboriginal activists in Townsville have been slow to exert their presence on the web, but are gradually becoming savvy in the use of electronic networking in furthering their cause. They rely on listservs, blogs and, more recently, social networking sites to make their struggle known to a wide audience. In addition to the use of Web 2.0 to supplement 'offline' activism, there is a new form of 'virtual' activism emerging. The rise in 'push-button activism' increases the opportunities for everyday engagement with the state by social movement participants. However, it also changes the notion of participation as marches and demonstrations give way to electronic petitions and Facebook fan pages. [Reprinted by permission of Sage Publications Ltd., copyright holder.]


    John Rash.

    Star Tribune, No. 08952825, Jan 29, 2011, pp. A.11.

    Soon a few others joined in, and some captured the clash with security forces on a cell phone. When the time comes to form a government of national unity, or when the time comes to win an election, you need a real organization,'' said Marina Ottaway, director of the Middle East Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

  26. Social media and the organization of collective action: using Twitter to explore the ecologies of two climate change protests

    Alexandra Segerberg and W. Lance Bennett.

    Communication review, Vol. 14, No. 3, Jul 2011, pp. 197-215.

    The Twitter Revolutions of 2009 reinvigorated the question of whether new social media have any real effect on contentious politics. In this article, the authors argue that evaluating the relation between transforming communication technologies and collective action demands recognizing how such technologies infuse specific protest ecologies. This includes looking beyond informational functions to the role of social media as organizing mechanisms and recognizing that traces of these media may reflect larger organizational schemes. Three points become salient in the case of Twitter against this background: (a) Twitter streams represent crosscutting networking mechanisms in a protest ecology, (b) they embed and are embedded in various kinds of gatekeeping processes, and (c) they reflect changing dynamics in the ecology over time. The authors illustrate their argument with reference to two hashtags used in the protests around the 2009 United Nations Climate Summit in Copenhagen. Reprinted by permission of Harwood Academic Publishers, Taylor and Francis Ltd

  27. Social Media One Key To The Arab Spring IT-Savvy Population It played bigger role in Tunisia, Egypt than in Libya, Yemen, some say

    Sheila Riley.

    Investor's Business Daily, No. 10612890, Oct 31, 2011, pp. A06.

    The Arab Spring owes a debt to technology — and the debt is growing. Social media, observers agree, has helped to dramatically alter the Middle East political landscape in recent months. "Free speech wasn't exactly a part of the Arab countries' dictionaries," said Ahmed Naguib, a 20-year old Egyptian, via email. Social media changed that, says Naguib, a political science major at the American University in Cairo. Naguib was among those tweeting

  28. Successful revolution takes more than social media

    James Carafano.

    The Examiner, Feb 22, 2011, np.

    Governments, they noted, can push back on cyberspace when they feel threatened. [...] they observed, the freedom to scream online may actually help regimes by providing a political release valve. [...] repressive regimes can employ social networking for their own ends, hawking propaganda and spreading disinformation.

  29. Tunisia uprising: Gang violence taints celebration of Tunisia's Jasmine Revolution: The sudden flight of ousted president Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and his family has left a mood of confusion and fear. Soldiers and tanks control central Tunis, but armed gangs continue to loot and burn amid worries that the ex-dictator's militia are involved


    The Observer, No. 00297712, Jan 16, 2011, pp. 4.

    Rage against the ruling dynasty, particularly the family of [Ben Ali]'s loathed wife, Leila Trabelsi, dubbed "Madame La Presidente" or the "Queen of Carthage", continued yesterday as the family's numerous villas and properties were ransacked and burned. The former hairdresser and her extended family had a grip on business, construction and foreign investment, living a lifestyle so lavish they would fly in food from other continents for parties. It emerged that she had fled the country in fitting style – on board her "shopping plane". For ordinary Tunisians, there was hope amid the uncertainty and apprehension. "We're a sentimental people," one teacher had said at the protests, explaining how dearly the educated lower middle classes prized the constitution and Tunisia's modernity. "More than 70 people have died, killed by the security forces. It's time for this to stop." Neji Brouri, 45, a key trade unionist in the journalists' union, is a writer who had been tracked, arrested and harassed by the regime for not toeing the line in the state-muzzled and totally censored press. His wife and family had endured decades of violence and pressure from the secret police. He said: "There is a mood of relief. But now we need a climate of freedom, human rights, civic freedoms to emerge. Gangs of militia are still trying to panic the country. The press of course is still in the hands of power. This isn't finished yet. We all have mixed feelings, there's joy but first and foremost people need to feel safe. People have been killed, tortured, followed, harassed, had their lives destroyed. Now there's a feeling the sacrifice was worth it. I woke up this morning thinking, was this all a dream? Now we have to prove it wasn't."

  30. Tweeting a Revolution

    John Charlton.

    Information Today, Vol. 28, No. 6, June 2011, pp. 12-14.

    Regime change can be violent and involve bloodshed, as shown by the recent events in the Middle East. Effective communications are key to this process, but whether that includes social media is not clearcut. After the remarkable events that transpired across a slew of Middle East countries in recent months, many people would think, according to some accounts, that all it takes is social media combined with anger to end an oppressive regime. Asserting the power of social media to mobilize crowds as a necessary condition for pursuing political objectives makes for easy headlines, but anyone who actually believes that ignores what makes protests happen and tick. It is safe to say that Twitter is not enough to start a revolution and bring political change. Adapted from the source document.

  31. The Unbreakable Muslim Brotherhood: Grim Prospects for a Liberal Egypt

    Eric Trager.

    Foreign Affairs, Vol. 90, No. 5, Sept/Oct 2011, pp. 114-126.

    The political transition following the Arab Spring in Egypt has dulled the optimism held by the young, liberal bloggers who first proposed demonstrations. The iconic youths of Tahrir Square are now deeply divided among nearly a dozen, often indistinguishable political parties, almost all of which are either too new to be known or too discredited by their cooperation with the previous regime. Meanwhile, the Muslim Brotherhood, which largely avoided the limelight during the revolt, is seizing the political momentum. Adapted from the source document.

  32. User-generated discontent

    Jack Bratich.

    Cultural studies, Vol. 25, No. 4-5, Jul 2011, pp. 621-640.

    In a time when interactive technologies and participatory usage are equated with DIY citizenship, how do we account for the return of sovereign power in the form of police interventions into usage? How are decentralized social media deployed as instruments by traditional social actors and political institutions? This article addresses these questions by analyzing the structuring context that links convergence and warfare. It focuses on the Alliance of Youth Movements, the State Department co-sponsored group that produced a web-hub of materials that distributed technical knowledge and social media skills for youth protestors around the world. Its effects were felt in Egypt's Arab Spring. At the same time, similar deployments of social media technologies by US domestic protestors have been considered a criminal use of a communication facility (e.g. Anonymous and the Tin Can Communications Collective's use of Twitter during 2009 G20 protests). Convergence produces hybrids, some of which are encouraged, mobilized and 'friended' while others are pre-empted, dissuaded and targeted as unspecified enemies by sovereign/network powers. We are witnessing a convergence of sovereign and network powers, one that expresses new modes of control while setting the conditions for new forms of evaluation and antagonism. Reprinted by permission of Routledge, Taylor and Francis Ltd.

  33. Weekend: Now what? They came together to topple Mubarak, but can Egypt's revolutionaries agree on what comes next? Thanassis Cambanis reports from Cairo.

    Thanassis Cambanis.

    The Guardian, No. 02613077, Aug 13, 2011, pp. 26.

    The scene couldn't have looked more different in the Delta. The Brotherhood had selected for its rally a dirt track off the town's main bypass. Several thousand people, mostly professionals, merchants or farmers, came with their families; volunteers were encouraged to donate blood at ambulances. On stage, party leaders paid tribute to the local families of the martyrs of the revolution – protesters killed in January and February - then moved on to business. A women's committee chief outlined the jobs women held in the party; a farmer spoke about its agricultural cooperatives. Finally, party head Mohammed Morsy gave a rousing speech. "The people gave their revolution to the military to protect," he thundered. "The only legitimacy in this country today comes from the people." In closing, he ordered his audience to demonstrate the party's discipline and breadth in their neighbourhoods - by picking up the garbage. "I'm afraid we're losing the people," says Moaz Abd El-Kareem, a 29-year-old pharmacist who cut his teeth as a teenage street activist for the Muslim Brotherhood. In recent years he has made common cause with friends such as Sally Moore, a Coptic Christian socialist, secular labour activists, and political veterans, and in January he defied the Brotherhood leadership to help lead the initial protests. In spring he went even further, founding a new party, the Egyptian Current, with a disaffected group of Brotherhood youth leaders who believe in a civil rather than a religious state. They promised members would determine the party platform in a grassroots democratic process. Thousands signed up – and found themselves joining a party that had no officials, goals or leaders, because its members hadn't had a chance to vote. When Tahrir was reoccupied last month, the Egyptian Current leadership decamped there, ineffectually preaching to the converted. "We have to be here," Abd El-Kareem says. "We can't be anywhere else. We're the revolution, after all." Captions: Neama El Sayed, 26, widow of a protester killed by security forces in Tahrir Square, with her children Sama, two, and Yassin, six months. Far left, top: Protesters head to the square on 1 April for the rally to "save the revolution". Far left, below: Dr Nawal El Saadawi, 80, women's rights advocate, psychiatrist, author, former political prisoner and founder of the Arab Women's Solidarity Association; Ramy Essam, 23, became known as The Singer Of The Square. He was detained and tortured after [Hosni Mubarak] fell, and has since written an album based on his experiences.; Far right: Sondos Shabayek, 25, writes for independent Egyptian newspapers and magazines; she tweeted the story of the protests; Top: Wael Ghonim, 30, ran a We Are All Khaled Said Facebook page after the 28-year-old Alexandrian's killing by police in June 2010 - he is pictured with Khaled's mother, Laila, who became known as the Mother of Egypt.; Above: Sarrah Abdel Rahman, 23, an activist who posted on YouTube Sarrahsworld reports from Tahrir Square; Labour rights activists Kamal Abass, 57 (far left), and Kamal Aby Eita, 58, with Khaled Ali, 40, a leading human rights lawyer; Below: Ahmed Seif Al Islam, 60, lawyer and former political prisoner, is the founder of the Hisham Mubarak Law Centre, which monitored state violence - he was arrested at the height of the protests.; Bottom, left to right: Mahmoud Salim, 29, who blogs as Sandmonkey; Mona Seif, 25, blogger, activist and daughter of Ahmed Seif; Gigi Ibrahim, 24, blogger and journalist; Hossam El-Hamalawy, 33, labour rights advocate, blogger and journalist; Right: Author Alaa Al Aswany is a columnist and founder of the opposition movement Kefaya (Enough).; Right, below: Unity organisers Moaz Abd El-Kareem (left), 29, and Mohammed Abbas, 26, from the Muslim Brotherhood's youth wing, and Sally Moore, 33, a Coptic Christian youth leader - Abbas and Moore drafted a "birth certificate of a free Egypt" after Mubarak's resignation

  34. Will Arab world's freedom wave reach Iran or China?

    John Hughes.

    The Christian Science Monitor, No. 08827729, Mar 17, 2011, np.

    [...] Chinese citizens have deftly maneuvered around banned social media sites like Twitter to demonstrate for change in a nation whose communist government is obdurate in thwarting it. [...] in late February they went national with a call for a "Jasmine Revolution," beginning in major Chinese cities, to be followed with nonviolent processions and marches each Sunday thereafter.

  35. Young people, political participation and online postmaterialism in Greece

    Yannis Theocharis.

    New Media & Society, Vol. 13, No. 2, Mar 2011, pp. 203-223.

    According to Inglehart's postmaterialist theory, young people brought up in periods of high economic and physical security, surrounded by better opportunities for education, are more likely to prioritise postmaterialist values. Postmaterialists are strongly inclined to support new forms of collective action and extra-institutional activity. Internet researchers have reported that internet users are mainly young, well educated and affluent, thus denoting a similarity to the demographic characteristics of postmaterialists. This article presents some evidence regarding the existence of postmaterialist values in the online realm of Greece, attempting to demonstrate how postmaterialism influences online and offline political activity. The findings indicate a trend on the part of young people to display a postmaterialist orientation, accompanied by a disinterest in traditional forms of political participation. Postmaterialism is positively associated with internet use and is a weak contributing factor to online and offline extra-institutional participation. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2011 APA, all rights reserved)(journal abstract)

  36. Political Change in the Digital Age: The Fragility and Promise of Online Organizing

    Bruce Etling, Robert Faris and John Palfrey.

    SAIS Review, Vol. 30, No. 2, summer-fall 2010, pp. 37-49.

    We conclude that policymakers and scholars that have been most optimistic about the impact of digital tools have over-emphasized the role of information, specifically access to alternative and independent sources of information and unfiltered access to the Internet. We argue, in contrast, that more attention should be paid to the means of overcoming the difficulties of online organization in the face of authoritarian governments in an increasingly digital geopolitical environment. Adapted from the source document.


    Malcolm Gladwell.

    The New Yorker, Vol. 86, No. 30, Oct 4, 2010, pp. 42-42.

    Gladwell examines how the claims that social media will spur social change compare to the strategies and organizations who have actually made radical change happen, like the sit-ins of the civil rights movement. He asserts that social media sites like Twitter and Facebook can't engender the sort of close bonds between individuals and depth of motivation that are seen in serious actvist movements, nor will they survive in high-risk environments.

  38. The Empire Strikes Back: Social Media Uprisings and the Future of Cyber Activism

    Ramtin Amin.

    Kennedy School Review, Vol. 10, No. 15350215, 2009/2010, pp. 64-66.

    In a country notorious for its media censorship, the emergence of online social networking sites and cell phone cameras now allows citizens to bypass state- censored media instantly and transmit a message or video clip to countless others at little or no cost. [...] the brutal government crackdown on Burmese monks – who were peacefully protesting for democratic reform – was revealed through video and blog postings, shedding light on Burma's harsh political realities.

  39. Iran: Downside to the "Twitter Revolution"

    Evgeny Morozov.

    Dissent, Vol. 56, No. 4, fall 2009, pp. 10-14.

    Critically examines the so-called "Twitter Revolution" in Iran, whereby the much touted political power of Internet-based social media fell short. It is argued that Twitter is inadequate to the task of mobilizing collective action in a repressive environment such as Iran & that a Twitter Revolution is only possible when the regime is ignorant of the Internet & lacks a presence there. Problems with the Iranian Twitter Revolution include foreign cyber-attacks on the Iranian government that undermined protest activity & cyber-vigilantism against suspicious seeming blogs & Twitter accounts. A call is made for the Obama administration, caught by surprise here, to take away some lessons from the failed Iranian Twitter Revolution. D. Edelman. Adapted from the source document.

  40. Moldova's "Twitter Revolution"

    Alina Pippidi and Igor Munteanu.

    Journal of Democracy, Vol. 20, No. 3, July 2009, pp. 136-142.

    Strife broke out in Moldova in April 2009 when the PCRM (Communist Party) won a landslide reelection. Despite a call by the OSCE (Organization of Security and Co-operation in Europe) of a clean election, some 30,000 protesters demonstrated in front of government offices. Word spread through online networking services, most notably Twitter. This article further explores not only Moldova's Twitter Revolution, but also questions of the strength of Moldova's Communist Party. Adapted from the source document.

  41. Reading Twitter in Tehran?; Why the real revolution is on the streets — and offline.


    The Washington Post, No. 01908286, Jun 21, 2009, pp. B.1-B.1.

    [...] the blogosphere is not limited to young, liberal, anti-regime activists; state sympathizers are increasingly active in the battle for online supremacy.

  42. Why Iran's Twitter revolution is unique

    Yigal Schleifer.

    The Christian Science Monitor, No. 08827729, Jun 19, 2009, pp. 6-6.

    Hamid Tehrani of Global Voices Online, a website that aggregates the work of bloggers from around the world, says Iranian officials may have contributed to rising power of social networking tools by temporarily lifting some of the filtering restrictions on them in recent months, apparently in an effort put on a friendly and democratic face in the run up to the elections.