The Impact of Information Technology and Social Networks in Changing Political and Social Reality of the Arab Countries

By Yaghi, Khalil A. | American Academic & Scholarly Research Journal, September 2012 | Go to article overview

The Impact of Information Technology and Social Networks in Changing Political and Social Reality of the Arab Countries


Yaghi, Khalil A., American Academic & Scholarly Research Journal


Abstract. The impact of online social networks on social capital can be achieved in myriad ways. For instance, common interest groups can help users coordinate for collective action. At the same time, regular exchanges between users can foster trust and norms of reciprocity that are key antecedents of community life. Likewise, news feeds allow users to keep in touch with what is going on "out there." This paper looks at the positive and negative impacts of the internet and the social media in the Arab world; Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Yemen, Jordan, Syria, Bahrain and Palestine. It also focuses on the factors that, have led to the increased use of the social media in these states as well as the measures and controls the authorities are taking to monitor the use of the social media.

Keywords: The Internet, Social networks, filtering systems, Arab world, uprisings, citizen participation.

1 INTRODUCTION

The internet has in the last two decades played a major role in how the society and the government operate in terms of communication, social interaction and execution of duties. Today, all government, business enterprises, the media and the community in general relies almost entirely on ICT for effective operations. Emergence of the social network has also had a great impact on the government operations especially in the western world. President Obama's campaigns greatly relied on social media especially to reach out to the modern mostly younger generation who are computer savvy. The social media has brought more citizen participation in governance especially in the western world and with it, there has been a more transparent approach to governance (Gilbert, 2004). With a computer and internet connection one can easily communicate to the world. This has been made much easier and quicker by the social networks, such as Facebook, twitter, MySpace and even Google. According to Abdalla (2009) there is need for governments especially in the Arab world to embrace the shiftin paradigm from the traditional way of governance to the more proactive and creative approach by the social networks (Khalil, July 13-14 2009,). Social networking applications have changed the way we learn, socialize and the governments should therefore promote the use of "e-government" websites, which would encourage citizen participation in government as well as community initiatives. In this paper, much focus will be on the effectiveness and implications of the internet and social networks to governance especially in the Arab and Muslim world. The paper also looks at the increase in the use of social networks especially by the youths in the Arab world, advantages and disadvantages of the social networks as well as new models in the use of social networks.

Interest in the use of ICT has mounted over the last decade and today a large percentage of the population in the world either has an ICT device or is well familiar with the use of these devices and their applications (Egypt's Changing Civil Society: The Muslim Brotherhood and New Media, 2011). The internet and the social networks have therefore transformed the social and political cultures from the traditional authoritative to the current participatory and creative culture in the Arab world. The internet has in many ways shifted power from the government to the citizens and through this, there has been hope and voice of people, in the Arab world (The Internet in the Middle East and North Africa: Free Expression and Censorship.). Human rights groups have been more active and the internet has greatly helped their course in democratization, participation and awareness to citizens in these nations (Tadros, 2005). It has removed isolation of the human rights activists through increased connectivity to the world and removal of boundaries. Interment and the Social media have played a major role in regime change currently ongoing in the Middle East.

2 THE DIRECT IMPACT OF SOCIAL NETWORKS:

Most of the countries in the Middle East were grappled with authoritarian rule for so many years. …

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