Social Media as a Tool for Protest. La cyberrésistance marque des points. First thoughts on Tunisia and the role of the Internet. News from Tunisia looks good.
For better or worse, many of us will be pondering the role that the Internet played or didn't play in the events of the Jasmine Revolution. Below are some preliminary reflections, which, if you know me well, are likely to change by the end of next week! One thing to keep in mind is that revolutions will continue and Twitter won't go away anytime soon. So, it's reasonable to assume that there WILL be some new-media activity for any social or political turmoil. Tunisia, social media and the politics of attention. Over Twitter, Sami ben Gharbia - who, I hope, will finally get a chance to return to Tunisia after his long exile - pointed out that social media did play an important role in "feeding" information to Al-Jazeera and France 24, conceding that at the same time it didn't have much of an impact on the coverage of the protests in the US.
Sami's remark made me think about my earlier blog post a bit more. My argument isn't really about the efficacy of social media in improving the coverage of the protests in the mainstream media (i.e. their venue, schedule, leaders, etc). What if Tunisia's revolution ended up like Iran's. (I am not a big fan of counterfactual thinking, but in this particular case it does help to generate new insights.)
So let's assume that the protests in Tunisia had eventually gone the way of the Green Revolution in Iran: the government stayed in power, regrouped, and began a massive crackdown on its opponents. As we know from the post-protest crackdown in Iran, the Internet has proved a very rich source of incriminating details about activists; the police scrutinized Facebook groups, tweets, and even email groups very closely. Furthermore, the Iran government may have also analyzed Internet traffic and phone communications related to the opposition. Now, Tunisia is no in Iran. Its long-ruling dictator is now gone and the new government is unlikely to engage in repressions on the same scale.
The question then is whether the social mobilization afforded by the Internet provides a force that is so powerful that no dictator would be able to withstand it. P.S. Quel impact d'internet sur la révolution tunisienne? Quel a été l’impact des médias en ligne, et notamment des réseaux sociaux, dans la «révolution de jasmin» tunisienne, qui s’est traduite le 14 janvier par la fuite du pays de Ben Ali?
Comme pour d’autres mouvement de protestation, en Iran par exemple, la question est posée par les médias, l’AFP décrivant par exemple Twitter et Facebook comme «des caisses de résonance de la révolte des Tunisiens», dans «un flux ininterrompu que le régime n'est pas parvenu à contenir». Le Blogging en Tunisie : une révolution ou une évolution?
Le Blogging en Tunisie : une révolution ou une évolution?
Les tunisiens ont compris depuis quelques années que les skyblogs n’ont pas leur place sur la toile tunisienne et nous avons assisté à une émergence des blogs à caractère professionnel, des blogs qui traitent de sujets beaucoup plus importants que les anciens “tiens c’est moi et mes amis sur la photo…”, des blogs qui sont devenus une source d’informations à ne pas négliger, même pour les journalistes classiques qui viennent désormais dénicher quelques scoops sur ces blogs web. Lebanon: Bloggers Support Tunisian Protests against “Arab Pinochet” This post is part of our special coverage of Tunisia Revolution 2011.
Lebanese bloggers have joined the chorus of concern over the Tunisian riots that have thus far claimed 24 lives. Sympathy and support is extended to the Tunisian youth protesting the authoritarianism, corruption, and poor economic management of President Zine el Abidine ben Ali, dubbed the “Arab Pinochet” by Lebanese blogger, the Angry Arab. The protests began after the self-immolation attempt of 24-year-old, Mohamed Bouazizi, in frustration at the country's high unemployment, soaring food prices and government corruption. The Arab world is following attentively Tunisia's worst internal crisis in decades, as many Arabs empathise with the desperation felt by the Tunisian protestors.
Rita Chemaly wrote a powerful blog post in support of the protestors: Tunisians Document Protests Online. Nawaat.orgAn image from a Tunisian blog of students in the capital, Tunis, who arranged themselves to spell out the words “No to Murder” in Arabic on Monday.
Updated | 10:55 p.m. As my colleague David Kirkpatrick reports from Tunisia, protesters there have been using the Web to organize demonstrations and spread news of violent clashes with the security forces in recent weeks. Last week, one activist and blogger, Slim Amamou, even managed to alert the world to the fact that he had been arrested by apparently turning on his phone and using Google Latitude to reveal his location: inside an interior ministry building in the capital, Tunis.* Nawaat.orgA screenshot from Google Latitude showing a Tunisian blogger’s last known location: in a government building. Some of the most evocative, and disturbing, images of the protests and clashes have appeared in video clips posted on YouTube.
(Note that this clip of the crowd singing the anthem also shows someone recording it on a mobile phone camera.) The First Twitter Revolution? - By Ethan Zuckerman. Friday evening, Tunisian President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali boarded a jet for Malta, leaving his prime minister to face streets filled with protesters demanding a change of government in the North African country.
Tunisia: Can We Please Stop Talking About ?Twitter Revolutions? - Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty ? 2011. While the tear gas was still hanging in the streets of Tunis, many pundits were quick to christen Tunisia’s revolution.
Andrew Sullivan has asked (again) whether it’s a Twitter Revolution. Elizabeth Dickinson, among others, speculated in “Foreign Policy” that it might be a “WikiLeaks revolution.” Anonymous, the online activists who recently attacked targets perceived to be against WikiLeaks, claimed it as their own after their DDOS attacks on various government targets.