We already know the importance of social media in marketing, brand awareness and communication. Social media now has a major role in democracy and in the fight against repression.
In the recent Arab Spring revolution people used social media to communicate about the facts, to organise struggle against tyranny and to raise awareness worldwide. The world media was then able to take testimonials from places where they were not allowed to report from and inform the international community. Without this, the ONU and OTAN interventions to liberate Arab people from repression may not have taken place. If governments decide to act, it is probably due to people’s opinion.
According to HansardSociety :
“Key tools for the modern revolution are digital because they achieve significant things; first, they bring together otherwise remote and disparate groups. Second, they create channels to bypass traditional state control of the media so the outside world can see what is going on. Alongside traditional activism and action, the tools of the trade today are the internet (for information dissemination and news), social media (to connect and coordinate), mobile phones (to capture what happens) and digital, particularly satellite, television to report it.”
Even if social media cannot be responsible for the uprising on its own, we see that major changes about the use of social networks have come into effect since the beginning of this year.
“Compared to 2010, in the first three months of 2011, Facebook grew in the Arab region at an even faster rate, growing 29% in the first three months as compared to 18% over the same period in 2010 (…) Interestingly the report also shows that English is the language of choice in seven Arab countries, while French is the language of choice in five Arab countries, with Arabic the language of choice in three Arab countries’’.
Many of the people that set up Facebook pages for the Arab Spring were well known cyber activists in their country and rightly seized the opportunity to use those networks as tools. During the uprising in Tunisia, for example, one of the best-known activists on Facebook and Twitter was Slim Amamou, who after Ben Ali’s demise became Tunisia’s Minister of Sports and Youth.
Two weeks ago, I wrote an article about the increase of digital language and its negative consequences on human relationships but we see that social media can be a fantastic catalyst for democracy. So now, check your Facebook and Twitter account to make your own revolution!