Friday, March 25, 2011

The Myth of the Arab Social Media Revolution

I want to get back to our latest "social media" revolution, happening in Syria. Covered in a post from yesterday,read that for some background information as to how this revolution may be being created. Internet technologies brought in, what countries may be involved, that kind of stuff.

Today is supposed to be the so called "Day of Dignity" Protest. And the mainstream media coverage will be on going. Live even. Al Jazeera and The Guardian are both mentioning they will be having "live coverage" of the protests. Likely other mainstream media outlets will be providing live coverage. Watching the BBC yesterday, they were covering the issue.


The protests in Daara, are at the very best a local issue. In one city. And so far, the protests have been small. This has me really curious as to why the international media is giving it so much coverage?

All this tv reporting has led us ( the great unwashed) in the west to believe that these protests are huge, and they are being fueled by masses of the citizens of varying countries having access to the latest internet technologies.

I have no doubt a tiny fraction of Egypt or Tunisia or Syria do have access to said technologies, but, is it enough to get the word out to the western media, like a biblical flood?!
So it can be repeated endlessly that this is a social media revolution.

Keeping in mind that, it is the western world that is enamored of social media. So it would be quite appealing, and valuable as propaganda for us to believe that this is the case in these nations. It would really appeal to us. And make us jump on the bandwagon.

I came across an interesting article, Social media did not bring on revolutions in Arab world

The Organizers of Arabnet, the digital summit that discusses the latest trends and technologies in the sector, found it necessary to discuss the role social media in the Arab uprisings.

The panel asked bloggers and activists to explore the way that social media was used, the influence it had and the extent to which it was crucial to the revolution.

And what they said was pretty interesting-

Toukan said in Egypt, only 7 percent of the population was on facebook, Mohamed El Dahshan, Policy consultant and Reporter at ‘Al Masry AlYoum’ said the Egyptian uprising was not a Facebook revolution and that people in Tahrir Square hardly had food supplies, and never used a computer.

The people in the Tahrir square hardly had food and had never used a computer

What about in Tunisia?

Social media tools did not make the revolutions as in Tunisia before the uprising only 2000 people were on twitter out of which 200 were active

Only 2000 people on Twitter in Tunisia, and only 200 active accounts?

Yesterday I saw a figure , on recall I would say it was around 50,000 facebook friends of the freedom movement for Syria. It could be more. Who are these people?
Because, as in Egypt, as in Tunisia these facebook followers are not likely Syrians.
How many active Twitter accounts would you suppose there are in Syria?
Considering there were only 200 in Tunisia, I would suggest, not many.

The article I have quoted from gives us an interesting clue as to who they may be-

Journalists working for regional and international media were tweeting news before reporting it to their news rooms. So the media started using tweets as a source for information and they sometimes took citizens for journalist and thus fell into reporting false information at some times.

Journalists, international and regional. Tweeting news reports that were picked up and used despite the fact that they were" reporting false information at times"
News is supposed to be factual, therefore the journalists on the ground, international and regional were pushing lies, propaganda to create a false impression to the receptive western audience!


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