The development in technology has supported an increase in the use of social media, making it as one of the fastest means in which humans interact with one another. People log into the social media accounts on a daily basis and post about the things that are happening around them. Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter are said to have a major influence on most events taking place currently. The Arab Springs Revolutions that took place in 2011 is one of the major events that was influenced by social media as it shaped the political debates in this era. The Arab Spring was a radical wave characterized by riots, protest, and civil war in Tunisia, and later spread to other nations of the Arab League. These demonstrations later led to the overthrow of Mubarak and the ouster of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Social media played a very important role in defining the direction of the political debates in the Arab league by passing on messages of democracy and freedom in the Middle East and North Africa, therefore addressing political conflicts.
When the demonstrations began in Tunisia on December 18, 2010, it would have been impossible to guess that they would soon spread to other countries of the Arab league such as Egypt and Syria. However, with the influence of social media, it became easy for the other countries to find out, and by the year 2011, citizens from other nations had joined into this the demonstration in a bid to have democracy in their countries. It was through Facebook and Twitter that the citizens incited one another to fight for their freedom and end the dictatorship that was taking place in the nations of the Arab League. Social media is said to have given a platform for citizen journalism to thrive in, which the people encouraged one another to join in this fight.
The key role of Twitter and Facebook, in this case, was to help the participants to come up with online networks. In Egypt, the networks were used to organize a group of activists who controlled the riots. The activists were able to communicate with one another through posts, tweets and re-tweets, which attracted a lot of attention from the citizens. They mobilized the people to go to the streets and were able to use their social media accounts to inform the people where the riots would take place. It is also from their posts that they encouraged the other citizens to exercise their freedom of expression. This in turn led to a situation in which the people were able to speak out about their dislike for the dictatorship reigns of some leaders such as Mubarak. Additionally, the online network was at the frontline of this battle and war for freedom by using social media as a space for a civil meeting.
Facebook and Twitter were a very important aspect of the toolkit for greater freedom. Extensive social networks were built by people who seemed to express an interest in the achievement of democracy. Stories of protests were carried across international borders, inspiring others to join in the organized political action. The increase in the number of tweets about political change in the Arab League influenced people to oppose the leadership that was in the government at the time. For example, the overthrow of Mubarak was influenced by the rise of tweets from 2,300 to 230,000 in one day, in which people expressed their disappointment in him, and their desire to have him out of the government. These tweets were coupled up by twenty-three videos that went viral, capturing the inhuman treatment of the citizens under the leadership of the dictators.
The use of social media to end the autocratic leadership regimes was made possible by the use of mobile phones. The young people that took part in the street protests could be seen doing so with smartphones in their hands. They took pictures of what happened during the protest and made the content available to the rest of the Arab league world through Twitter and Facebook. Since the government prohibited the television stations from broadcasting any information about the civil war, the global audience was made aware of what was taking place through tweets and post, including the photographs of the protests. Disparate groups were brought together through the smartphones, making it possible to coordinate their protests. In addition to this, the mobile phones made it possible for the conventional media to be bypassed and for all citizens to be aware of the government opposition and new cases of civil unrest.
During the Arab Spring, Facebook and Twitter interactions were used as a means of providing the protesters with information on how thwart efforts by the security forces to disperse the protesters. In addition to this, the protesters were also offered tips on what to do if tear gas was used against them. It seems like social media made it possible for activists to be on top of their game because maps of where the protest meetings would take place were also placed online. Such online activities increased the pressure exerted by the protesters on the government because the government was now aware that the rest of the world could view what was happening in these nations. The worst part of this came through the brutality of the images of the repression of the protesters by the government security forces that were shared online. Although some governments, such as the Tunisian government tried to stop the spread of information by blocking the social networking sites, protest demonstrations increased, forcing President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to apologize to the people, and unblocking the sites. His actions seem to have been the last straw that broke the camel’s back because he was forced to resign and an interim coalition government was developed.
Furthermore, social media was used to conduct political conversations that were highly influenced by demographics such as the young, urban individuals, as well as the highly educated women. These groups of people used Facebook and Twitter to exert pressure on the government and to bring the shameful acts of the leaders into the limelight. For example, a video of President Zine’s wife making expensive shopping trips using the government jet was used to bring shame to President Zine. Crucial government information was also shared through these sites, leaving the various governments feeling vulnerable to any form of attack. The online conversations and debates were an integral part of toppling the governments and causing major revolutions. It is through this debates that the protesters and activities felt encourage to forge forward since they had the support of the larger percentage of citizens.
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In conclusion, it is clear that social media did pass messages of freedom and democracy across borders, thus changing the direction through which political debates took. Facebook and Twitter made it possible for the Arab Spring revolution to take place by providing a platform through which activists would network with one another. It was through these sites that the horrible deeds of the government security forces were exposed, causing a major opposition to the dictatorial and autocratic governments. Of course, the smartphones made this easy by making it possible for the protesters to capture images of the protests and share them with the rest of the society, thus increasing their support. The spread of information through social networking sites was fast and very effective leading to increased tension on the side of the government, and later on allowing the citizens to achieve their goals of democracy.