After the Arab spring, a subject of social media’s role on social movement be more and more important. There are two main perspective about this issue:
“Cyberoptimist” perspective claim that new media had an crucially important role on Arap spring and other social movement, such as in İran etc. On the other hand, “cyber sceptist” perspective focus on about the new media in bringing down autocratic regimes in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, Bahrain. This blogpost is a reflection about new media and social movements relationship report of scholar from Unıted States Institute of Peace Centers.
They use “five levels of analysis” framework for report. In these report, so many data from bit.ly, URL shortener service. According to this report, scholars find stronger evidence that new media informs international audiences and mainstream media reporting rather than plays a direct role in organizing protests or allowing local audiences to share self-generated news directly with one another. They state that some evidence of this report to support regional demonstration and diffusion effects, as ideas and narrative frames spread through Arab social networks across borders. The key role for new media may be its bridging function: from an activist core to mass publics, from user-generated content to mainstream mass media, and from local struggles to international attention.
Five levels of analysis
According to this report, five distinct levels at which new media might affect political conflict:
* Individual attitudes and behavior,
* Social connections and divides,
* Collective action
* Regime repression
* International attention
Individual attitudes and behaviors are very important for social movements, spesificially in Arab Spring. Activists have an important role on movement. The report state that “activist across the region, from Tunisia and Egypt to Bahrain and Yemen, seemed to demonstrate similar atitudes”. Most of activist were young, well educated, urban. They use internet so closely.
Sometimes society divide two or more blocks, but now always. During violent clashes between protestors and security forces in November and December around Tahrir Square, most Egyptians seemed to side with the authorities and the streets remained quiet only blocks away from the fighting. Few joined a general strike called by activists for February 2012. (For more details please check this link)
General opinion about Arab Spring, new media tools have an important impact on organization of demonstration. Tweets, Facebook posts, etc. were used in demonstrations and this was crucially important.
Scholars state that “there is ample evidence of new media being used to organize and sustain protests during the Arab uprisings, though it is more difficult to demonstrate a unique causal role. Then there is the question of whether new media actually helped to catalyze the protests themselves. Here again, the evidence for new media’s impact is surprisingly thin. Some accounts emphasize that Egyptian activists had coordinated for many years via online tools.”
Internatioan attention is so important for succesfully social movement and it depends on the using of media and new media. In Arab spring not only new media but also conventıonal media had an important role on internatioanl attention such a Al-Jazeera. In this report, scholars state that “the links between the local and the international were indirect. Journalists for mainstream media, whether Al-Jazeera or American newspapers and television, relied heavily on new media. In the case of Libya and Syria, almost all video footage used on the air came from users, either sent to the stations or uploaded to social sharing sites. Mainstream media outlets used social media to identify activists to interview for their stories, making many of them (particularly in Egypt) into international stars. Thus, new media was a conduit for old media, increasingly providing the material for old media. Traditional media outlets, especially broadcasters, often turned to the online videos of “citizen journalists” rather than their own correspondents for on-the-ground real-time report- age of the protests in Tunisia and Egypt.”