A short reflection on “Social Media and the Decision to Participate in Political Protest: Observation from Tahrir Square”

Nearly two years ago the Tahrir Square in the middle of Cairo became a symbol of the revolutionary power of the people of Egypt. Starting from there the world witnessed a number of movements in different Arabic countries. Today the meaning of this symbol is highly endangered by the newer developments of the Egyptian army calling the human rights in question against a disputable will for democracy through force.

Another symbol of this movement is Facebook. The accelerated gathering of a big mass of people that were able to form a protest strong enough to overthrow the government would not have been possible without a mighty communication tool.

As much as it is criticized, Facebook has certain advantages that make it an ideal tool for social movements. Thus it is designed to be a social network that both connects people and provides them with personalized advertisements makes it appear a little more harmless than it is.

The spread of revolutionary thoughts has often been strongly connected with new media technologies being adapted by the population of a country before their government could take it under its control. In case of internet communication and its speed of instant messaging one can say it is only a question of time until the spark of social movements jumps over in bit and bites.

 

Now that we find ourselves in a new situation of constant, perfect surveillance we are easily tempted to let Facebook lose its meaning as the second big symbol for the Arab Spring and further for freedom and democracy.

This opens a new discourse whether it is still advisable to use social media as a platform for social movements while you can easily be tracked by technical elites hired by governments.

By Justin

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