New Weapons of Protest: Social Media Networks Have Played a Key Role in Fanning the Flames of Unrest in the Middle East. Governments Have Been Caught Unprepared
Hamid, Triska, MEED Middle East Economic Digest
On 27 January, President Hosni Mubarak took the decision to shut down Egypt's internet and mobile services in a bid to prevent the demonstrators calling for his resignation from communicating with one another.
US-based social networking websites Face-book and Twitter and other messaging services had been used by organisers of the protests to gather support and coordinate meeting points.
But by then lack of communications was no barrier to the momentum of the people, the demonstrations continued without the internet.
Facebook and Twitter played a vital role in enabling organisers to reach out to the wider population, to organise support for the protests, but whether they were the reasons for change is questionable.
"Technology can facilitate change, but the situation has to be ripe for change to begin with," says Giacomo Luciani of Dubai-based Gulf Research Centre Foundation.
The Middle East suffers from some of the highest unemployment rates in the world, with a young and literate population. Of the 450 million people across the region, 45 per cent are under 21, a frustrated demographic that requires 100 million new jobs by 2020.
Tunisians were the first to take to the streets and demand change. On 17 December 2010, unemployed graduate Mohamed Bouazizi set himself alight in Sidi Bouzid …
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: New Weapons of Protest: Social Media Networks Have Played a Key Role in Fanning the Flames of Unrest in the Middle East. Governments Have Been Caught Unprepared. Contributors: Hamid, Triska - Author. Magazine title: MEED Middle East Economic Digest. Volume: 55. Issue: 5 Publication date: February 4, 2011. Page number: 22+. © 1999 MEED Middle East Economic Digest. All Rights Reserved. COPYRIGHT 2011 Gale Group.
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