Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Social Media Revolution

The fall of the Tunisian government is the first in a long list of tyrannical regimes waiting to be toppled by frustrated citizens and social media-inspired activists.

It took the death of an unemployed 26 year-old graduate in Tunisia for the country’s repressed population to stand up to evict old tyrant Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali from the country. The frustrated youth of Tunisia were, however, helped in their anger by social media tools as they organised and massed while evading the watchful eye of the regime’s secret police. In those hot times, Facebook, Twitter and Youtube came in handy. The #Sidibouzid hashtag was all that one needed to follow the revolution in Tunis when all the king’s cookies came crumbling down. And like a dog beaten in a fight, Ben Ali took flight. The first successful revolution by social media to topple an Arab regime was solidified.

Apparently taking note, Egyptians, Algerians, Yemenis and other sit tight Arab leaders have begun to receive a bashing from their own citizens who have taken to the streets in protest. In Cairo last week, Egyptians massed on the streets protesting against the three decades old government of President Hosni Mubarak. Protesters chanted and marched as police fired tear gas into their midst. Even as the Egyptian authorities tried in vain to stifle the use of social media tools like the Tunisians did, demonstrators were able to find a way round it to organise groups to meet. The world as we know it is changing and the impact of social media more than ever before will be felt in countries around the world, for good or for bad. 

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