Political Activism 2.0: Comparing the Role of Social Media in Egypt’s “Facebook Revolution” and Iran’s “Twitter Uprising”

As in my last reflection mentioned the question, if the same revolution as in Egypt can happen by another movement with the same social media input, I found the article “Political Activism 2.0: Comparing the Role of Social Media in Egypt’s “Facebook Revolution” and Iran’s “Twitter Uprising” “ written by Mohammed El-Nawawy and Sahar Khamis.

The authors explored and compared both the Arab Spring and the Green Movement by using the SPRING model. In the article they gave an overview about both movements. Whereas the Iranian movement used Twitter for its communcation and mediashare the Eqypt movement used the social network ‘Facebook’ more during the revolution. The study should find out “why […] the calls for political change that started in the virtual world [did] lead to actual change in the real world in Egypt but not in Iran?”

Even if there is a tremendous growth of social media and the internet use in both countries  there are a lot of differences why a revolution happend during one movement but not during the other one.

The findings both authors made are really interesting. First of all there is a consensus of both movements: Well educated, young Iranians and Egypts started to use the internet and all kind of social networks to express their dissatisfaction about the politcial situation. So one can say that the internet and the social media has an significant influence. But not only the protesters used the internet for its protest, also the government started using the internet. And here is the main difference about both movements.

Iran, which uses one of the best filtering techniques, started to raise fake Facebook identities. Reason for it was to make friendship with Iranians to find out with whom they have a friendship and to find out who were the protesters. Also they started to spread fake information about the protests on Twitter so that the people got confused what is right and what is wrong. As there were no protests before in Iran, or at least not in that dimensions, the protesters have had difficulties in organizing huge demonstrations. So in the end there was no revolution.

Egypt therefore, during the Arab Spring, have had a big community already, whose where taking part of different protests before. So as Mubarak shut down the internet and also the mobile services they still had no problems to get all the protesters together and start another demonstration. That proofed that Egypt had a strong civil society that the government could not win against that. Also the government didnt use the internet for spreading fake information about the movement. This two indicates caused a revolution.

The most surprising fact that came out by reading this article is that not the social media but the society and leaders of a protest are more effective in bringing a regime down. This was nothing I had expected as we know that Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and other social networks where so important for the Arab Spirng and made it that famous.


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