Final Essay: The Arab Spring: The First Revolution of its Kind

“In the 21st century, the revolution may not be televised-but it likely will be tweeted, blogged, texted and organized on Facebook, recent experience suggests”

The Arab Spring was the first revolution of its kind. Instead of just word of mouth communication and relying on news outlets to spread information, people used social media websites like Twitter and Facebook to inform the entire world of what was going on in their particular country. Because social media and the internet are both relatively new concepts, the world has never seen a revolution like this. Without the internet, it is hard to conceptualize how the rest of the world would have reacted to what was going on in that region. Normally, Western media is not known for reporting accurately on the Arab world. The content that was shared on Twitter and Facebook forced the world to watch the Arab world in distress. It sparked many political debates in and out of the region. During the Arab world, social media was a tool that was used to organize protests, share information, and aid in the destruction of entire government systems. (Brown, 2012)

The impact of social media differed in different countries. The influence of social media was strongest in Tunisia and Egypt, which even led to the government of each of these countries blocking several websites for multiple days. Nine out of ten Egyptians and Tunisians responded to a survey saying that Facebook was central in helping them organize protests and spread awareness. (Huang, 2011)  In countries like Syria and Bahrain, people also used social media to mobilize. In Syria, there was even a group called the Syrian Electronic Army that anonymously protested against President Bashar al-Assad and his regime. The group uploaded videos of anti-Assad demonstrations to Youtube. (Arthur, 2013) They also frequently posted videos of violence in Syria. The Syrian Electronic Army helped to expose Assad’s regime. Despite this, the uprisings in Syria were not successful in removing Assad from the presidency. Assad’s government hired counter-revolutionary hackers. These hackers aimed to contrast the messages being spread by SEA. They also frequently attacked Western media sources. (Arthur, 2013) Internet hackers did not exist in Tunisia and Egypt. In these countries, people used social media to organize and unite.

Online activists were crucial in the revolutions that occurred; “a small circle of fellow activists were once seen by many in Egypt as the best hope for an end to corruption and repression and the dawning of an era of free speech and respect for citizens by the state.” (Georgy, 2016) For example,  Esraa Abdel-Fattah was an Egyptian protestors and one of the most prominent activists in Egypt. She was responsible for organizing protests that united people. She recorded many demonstrations and posted them on Facebook. For 18 days, she sent live updates and tweeted about the protests on her phone. After Bouazizi’s self-immolation in Tunisia, the one action that launched the whole Arab Spring, Egyptians created a page called “We Are All Khaled Said”.  This page was created by Egypt’s largest and most significant online human rights activist group. Most of these protestors were young people. The youthfulness of the protestors is also another reason why the Arab Spring is also considered the revolution of the youth. This Facebook page is credited with igniting and launching the Egyptian Revolution. Khaled Said was a young Egyptian man beaten to death by the Egyptian police. Within three months, the page had accumulated 25,000 followers. The revolution was able to come alive because of pages like “We Are All Khaled Said”. Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms allowed a space for young citizens to voice their complaints about the government. It allowed for people to share their voice in a way that they had not been able to before. Beyond organizing demonstrations, social media was a tool to spread information. Many citizens needed to spread their version of the “truth” to the outside world because for years and even in some cases decades, people had no idea how corrupt regimes in these countries were. During the Arab Spring, “a large percentage of young men and women primarily used social media…to raise awareness within their own countries about societal grievances and the ongoing uprisings.” (Mourtada, 2012)

Social media also became a gender equalizer during this time. Both Arab men and women agreed on most of the issues being discussed on social media. Men and women used social media in the same ways. Social media even became a tool of empowerment for women. I think this can be seen best through evaluating activists like Esraa Abdel-Fattah. Social media gave Fattah a platform where she could be seen and listened to. Social media gave women opportunities for advancement by providing platforms that allowed women to speak up. Through platforms like Twitter and Facebook, women were actually able to create meaningful change.

During the Arab Spring, the Arab region saw an exponential increase in social media users. For example, “the total number of Facebook users in the Arab world stood at 37,865,442 as of December 2011, having almost doubled since the same time the year before.” (Mourtada, 2012) Between the months of January and December 2011, the number of Facebook users increased by 77 percent. People in the region were actively tuned into what was going on more so than before. I believe this has to do with the fact that most protests of the Arab Spring were organized on Facebook. People initially needed Facebook in order to participate in anti-government organizations. There was also a spike in Twitter users and Twitter use during the uprisings. When the internet was cut off in Egypt, there was a decrease in tweets because Egyptian citizens did not have access to the internet. A study by Catherine O’Donnell shows how the impact of social media.  O’Donnel analyzed over 3 million tweets and content posted on Youtube and blogs to discover that social media did play a central role in shaping politics in the Arab Spring. (O’Donnell, 2011) People used social media to promote messages of democracy. These messages were able to reach people from all corners of the world. In Tunisia, immediately after protests and demonstrations occurred, people would go online and start having discussions of what just transpired. These conversations were not exclusive to the country where the protests were going on. Research found that neighboring countries also discussed the protests happening in other countries; “In other words,” Howard said, “people throughout the region were drawn into an extended conversation about social uprising. The success of demands for political change in Egypt and Tunisia led individuals in other countries to pick up the conversation. It helped create discussion across the region.” As I have mentioned, these discussions spanned past the region. The whole world was talking about the things that were going on in the Arab region. Social media forced people to open their eyes to the violence happening in the region because pictures and videos of the protests were accessible everywhere.

I was fascinated by this topic because I am generally interested in politics. I also thought that this topic fit well into much of what we discussed in class. As I have mentioned multiple times, the Arab Spring was the first revolution of its kind. This is the first time that people were able to watch war and conflict unfold by tapping through their screens as it was occuring. Through Twitter and Facebook, people were able to gain immediate exposure to the events occuring in the Arab region. The Arab Spring stood out to me in particular because I was exposed to it by watching the news and by speaking to my father. I did not watch the Arab Spring unfold on Facebook or Twitter because I was not active on those websites at the time. However, according to the research that I found, I know many people who did watch the protests as they happened online. I believe that Twitter and Facebook was a call to action from activist to citizens and to the world. The content that people were posting online was a cry for help.

The Arab Spring was not necessarily victorious for countries.  For example, the conditions that led to the revolutions in the Arab region still exist. However, I think that the “social media revolution” was really necessary. It has paved the way for many future revolutions. One that comes to mind is the current Sudanese revolution. With the help of Twitter and Instagram, the entire world was informed of what was going on in Sudan. The world had been silent while the Sudanese people suffered under their government. Sudanese people went on social media and demanded that people pay attention to Sudan and it worked. Prior to demanding attention of social media, much of the world was clueless of the Sudanese conflict. However, when people on Sudan started posting images and videos of protests on different social media websites, the world was able to tune in. The uprisings that occurred during the Arab Spring paved the way for this.

The Arab Spring is only one example of how effective social media and the internet can be. The internet is most definitely a tool that can be used for the greater good. As we have learned throughout the semester, the internet has the power to change lives. Without the Arab Spring, most of the world would not have known about the issues that plagued that part of the world. They also would not have known the citizens side of the stories. I remember my father support Gaddhafi’s regime and I think it is because of the way the news reported the uprising in Libya. Upon further research, I have come to the conclusion that there was nothing to support about Gaddhafi’s regime. Without the “truth” of Libyan citizens posted on the internet during the Arab Spring, the world might have never known both sides of the Libyan conflict.

I thank the internet for allowing us to be able to receive information from all angles and digest knowledge as we choose.

Works Cited

Arthur, Charles, and Luke Harding. “Syrian Electronic Army: Assad’s Cyber Warriors.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 30 Apr. 2013, http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/apr/29/hacking-guardian-syria-background.

Elseewi, Tarik Ahmed. “The Arab Spring: A Revolution of the Imagination.” International Journal of Communication, ijoc.org/index.php/ijoc/article/view/1237.

Georgy, Michael. “The ‘Facebook Girl’ Who Started Egypt’s Revolution Is Now Hated in Her Own Country.” The Independent, Independent Digital News and Media, 25 Jan. 2016, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/esraa-abdel-fattah-how-the-facebook-girl-who-started-egypt-s-revolution-became-hated-in-her-own-a6832686.html.

Huang, Carol. “Facebook and Twitter Key to Arab Spring Uprisings: Report.” The National, The National, 6 June 2011, http://www.thenational.ae/uae/facebook-and-twitter-key-to-arab-spring-uprisings-report-1.428773.

Mourtada, Racha, and Fadi Salem. Https://Www.iemed.org/Observatori-En/Arees-Danalisi/Arxius-Adjunts/Anuari/Med.2012/Mourtada%20salem_en.Pdf, 2012.

“New Study Quantifies Use of Social Media in Arab Spring.” UW News, http://www.washington.edu/news/2011/09/12/new-study-quantifies-use-of-social-media-in-arab-spring/.

“‘The Arab Spring’-a Timeline.” The Dissident Blog, http://www.dissidentblog.org/en/articles/arab-spring-timeline.

Tudoroiu, Theodor. “Social Media and Revolutionary Waves: The Case of the Arab Spring.” New Political Science, vol. 36, no. 3, Sept. 2014, pp. 346–365. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/07393148.2014.913841.Source 2:

Creative Project

Here is a link to my creative project.

https://maphub.net/mamekane/map

I created a digital map that shows the eight countries a part of the Arab Spring Revolution. When you click on each country, you will be able to see a picture of protests. You will also gain access to a brief explanation of what went on in each country. Some explanations include why the Arab Spring was considered a digital explanation and some do not. This is because, I will be going into depth about how the Arab Spring was a digital revolution in my paper. I did not want to overwhelm those who were reading my map with too many words. I provided an explanation of what was happening in those countries and what the uprisings in their specific countries resulted in. For countries that are still in a state of war, I made sure to specify this fact as well. I wanted to provide detailed but concise explanations so that I don’t bore my reader.

I chose this medium (a digital map) as my creative project because it is something that I have never done before. I also was aware that no one else in the class was going to create a digital map so I thought it would be cool to see. I thought it would be fitting in order to show the proximity of these countries that participated in the Arab Spring. As you read my concise explanations, you can visually picture how these protests spread from one country to another. I provided timelines for when each country began protesting in the paragraph explanations. I did not want to post any violent photos so each photo is representative of what a protest looked like in that specific country.

I think this project is a great example of how digital media is necessary in this world. As you can see by looking at the map and reading my explanations, these protests spread like wildfire. It is interesting when you think about how social media let these protests spread beyond this particular region of the world. I think that this project is a good example of how social media can be a really good tool sometimes. I do wish I took more time in explaining the impact of social media in each country but I also think it’s safe to say that social media had the most impact in Tunisia and Egypt which I did express. I will use my paper to go into as much detail as I can about the social media impact in these countries.

This project fits in our class because it is the first type of revolution of its kind. The Arab Spring is known as a digital revolution and we live in a digital time. More people should learn more about how technology was able to help bring about change and peace in so many different countries.

Website Reflection

To be quite honest, I have had quite some difficulty navigating WordPress. I am familiar with Tumblr, Squarespace, and Wix. These are all websites that I have used to maintain a blog. I used Tumblr to create an art blog. I have used Squarespace and Wix to maintain a separate blog. On WordPress, I have a lot of difficulties creating the type of site that I would like. I somehow accidentally deleted the home page and have not been able to add it back. I will google it so that I can. The fact that I don’t have a home page really ruins the naturally aesthetic of the blog. The formatting of the blog just posts a list of things that I’ve written and it isn’t really nicely formatted. Regardless, I do think that I’ve done some decent work on the class and that is reflected in my posts. I know that my website does not have a future beyond this class. It was a website just created to track my progress and assignments in this class. The Arab Spring was nearly a decade ago. I am just regurgitating information to share with my peers. I was shocked to learn that some people didn’t know what the Arab Spring was so I was happy to teach them.

I can’t say that I think that my blog is a good reflection of me or my creativity if I am being honest. I’m really a fan of the arts and that’s not reflected in this blog because I barely know how to use WordPress. It seems straight forward but wasn’t to me. For example, when I tried to make the whole background one color, it only made the parts surrounding the text the color. I thought it was unique to that theme but it happened in the other themes I selected. As you can see from the screenshot of my personal blog below, I love colors and I’m all about presentation. I just didn’t figure out WordPress in the way that I have wanted to.

I am still going to play with WordPress some more tonight to see if I can magically transform my blog because I can’t say that I like the way that it looks now. However, I am happy that it is pretty easy to navigate because the Blog Feed is the main page.

I enjoyed using a blog to track assignments because I think it is a very organized way to keep track of what I have been doing in the class this semester. If I wanted to use tags, I would have been able to carefully filter different assignments. With a customized link, I would have been able to visit the pages where these assignments were sorted. Blogs in general are an efficient way to keep track of ones work. I personally think more people should keep blogs…after all, the internet is forever.

Update: I still was not able to add the homepage like I wanted to but I am okay with how the blog looks because at the very least it is organized.

Creative Project Draft

Here is a draft of the countries that will be shown on my interactive map. I’m just going to leave descriptions of what I’ll have on the map. The descriptions will explain what happened in each of these countries during the Arab Spring.

Tunisia Revolution:

– happened over a 28 day period

– street demonstrations which led to an ousting of the president

– end result was a democracy and free & democratic elections

– cause by high unemployment rate, food inflation, lack of political freedom, income inequality

– riots in Tunisia were rare because the country is well off in comparison to neighboring countries

– the revolution that started it all

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tunisian_Revolution

Egypt

– “We Are All Khaled Said” facebook page sparked a lot of controversy

– “the role of new media that made this death particularly salient”

– at the protests, the people chanted “the people want to bring down regime”

– sought change in a regime because of corruption, police brutality, media censorship, unemployment, and inflation

– violence between protestors and police led to 846 deaths

– president was removed from office on 2/11/2011

– results: islamic groups could legally form political parties

https://rlp.hds.harvard.edu/faq/arab-spring-egypt

Syria

– peaceful protest started in 2011 that has now spiraled into ongoing conflict

– revolutions in syria started in march 2011, 2 months after tunisian revolution

– syrian government is incredibly violent in response…they send tan

https://guides.library.cornell.edu/arab_spring/Syria

Libya

– uprising belongs in February 2011

– armed revolt against Gaddafi

– Gaddafi went on a run and was captured and killed

– a pluralist, democratic state was established

– *basically a war

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-12482311

(this website also has information on all of the countries I am including)

Yemen

– yemen’s president was the fourth arab leader to be removed from power

– an estimate of 200-2000 people dead (not sure why this range exists)

Research Paper Rough Draft

This is the beginning of my paper although there is no introduction here yet. I also briefly touch on some of the topics in this. I think I am going to expand on all of the ideas presented in the paragraphs.

The Arab Spring was the first revolution of its kind. Many often call the Arab Spring an internet revolution, which I believe is a very fitting name. Without the internet, I do not believe the Arab Spring would have been as successful as it was. Social media was a significant tool that helped to bring awareness about the issues that countries in the Middle East were facing. Both protestors and governments used social media to share their versions of the “truth”. Social media was central in the Arab Spring. It sparked many political debates in and out of the region. Social media allowed for the world to gain intimate exposure of the corruption occurring in many regimes. Just by logging into Facebook or Twitter, a person could experience everything happening in these countries through their screen. Technology has allowed for us to see things that we were not able to see before.

The impact of social media differed in different countries. For example, in Tunisia and Egypt, the use of social media helped to peacefully dissemble the political regimes. In a poll conducted, 9 out of 10 Egyptians and Tunisians said that they used Facebook to organize among each other. In most Arab countries, the creation of Facebook accounts was exponential. During the time, Facebook attracted thousands of new users especially in countries where uprisings were taking place. The governments of these countries did not react well to the mobilization that was occurring on Facebook. The Tunisian government blocked the websites that people used to coordinate and plan protests. The Egyptian government was more extreme in their antics. They nationally blocked Facebook and then shut the internet down for a five day period. Despite the lack of internet, the protests continued.

Many protestors across different Arab nations collaborated in order to spread awareness. After the Tunisian revolution, Egyptians creates a Facebook page called “We Are All Khaled Said”. This page was created by Egypt’s largest and most significant online human rights activist group. Most of these protestors were young people. The youthfulness of the protestors is also another reason why the Arab Spring is also considered the revolution of the youth. This Facebook page is credited with igniting and launching the Egyptian Revolution. Khaled Said was a young Egyptian man beaten to death by the Egyptian police. Within three months, the page had accumulated 25,000 followers. The revolution was able to come alive because of pages like “We Are All Khaled Said”. Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms allowed a space for young citizens to voice their complaints about the government. It allowed for people to share their voice in a way that they had not been able to before.

Another significant protestor of the Arab Spring was Facebook Girl, an Egyptian citizen named Esraa Abdel-Fattah. She organized many different protests in Egypt. Abdel-Farrah risked her life numerous times with her actions. She used Facebook to record what was happening in Egypt. For 18 days, she sent live updates and tweeted about the protests on her phone. She was one of the most important figures of the Arab Spring.

Creative Project:

I could possibly try to reach out to one of the protestors like Abdel-Farrah. Shee pretty much lives in obscurity in Egypt now and I could ask her a few questions and conduct an interview. If not, I could reach out to a less prominent person or organization. I don’t really know how to make this a creative project yet but I am thinking!

After class discussion, I think that I will make an interactive map and share information on what happened in each country.

Annotated Bibliography

Although I previously said that I wanted to write about the Sudan Revolution and how social media made the world aware of it, I have decided I will just write about the Arab Spring. The Arab Spring was the first revolution of its kind. Social media allowed the world to become aware of what was happening in the Arab world and make change. Also there is not much information about what is going on in Sudan because a lack of coverage and the “revolution” is still occurring.

Source 1: Framing the “Arab Spring”: Hip Hop, Social Media, and the American News Media

McDonald, David A. “Framing the ‘Arab Spring’: Hip Hop, Social Media, and the American News Media.” Journal of Folklore Research, vol. 56, no. 1, Jan. 2019, pp. 105–130. EBSCOhost, doi:10.2979/jfolkrese.56.1.04.

As a citizen of the United States, I rely on Western media to learn about what is going on around the rest of the world. At the time that the Arab Spring was occurring, I used Facebook to learn more about it. I am interested in this source because it dissects how the Arab Spring was covered by American media sources. This is an interesting source as well because it talks a lot about sound and music. Sound was an important component of the Arab spring because people used their voices to protest. These protests were captured on video which was then seen around the world. This article also talks about the role of music in protest and I have never considered that before so I am interested in exploring it more. This source will be useful to my project because my paper will discuss social media’s impact on a modern revolution. This source is also helpful because it points at the many types of protests that happened during the Arab Spring and I look forward to learning more about them.

Source 2: Social Media and Revolutionary Waves: The Case of the Arab Spring.
Tudoroiu, Theodor. “Social Media and Revolutionary Waves: The Case of the Arab Spring.” New Political Science, vol. 36, no. 3, Sept. 2014, pp. 346–365. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/07393148.2014.913841.Source 2: Social Media and Revolutionary Waves: The Case of the Arab Spring.

I chose this article because it explains social medias impact on the Arab Spring. Not only did social media provide exposure about the corruption going on in these Arab nations, it also gave people platforms where they organized. Many people used Facebook groups to organize different types of protests. Social media was a very effective way to unite people and this article explores that. This article also confirms that the Arab Spring was the first revolution to be successfully guided and supported by social media. This source is interesting to me because it provides a list of eight different ways that social media was used during the Arab Spring. It also describes how the revolution came about while defining what a revolution is. The article also gives a history of the internet in the Middle East and the Arab world which I believe will be great background information for my paper.

Source 3: “Here’s How the Arab Spring Started and How It Affected the World”
Here’s How the Arab Spring Started and How It Affected the World. YouTube, YouTube, 8 May 2018, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fgcd5ZcxDys.Source 3:

I like watching videos because I think they are very easy to understand. This video gives a summary of how the Arab Spring started and some important details. This is one of the first videos I have watched on this topic. It introduced me to many new ideas that I will further explore in my paper. This video is very informative and quickly discusses what happened in the Arab Spring. It also points out key events and people in the Arab Spring, which I appreciated! If anyone wanted a quick history of the events that occurred I would recommend this video to them. It is also relevant to my research because it explains how social media was relevant in informing the world what was going on in the Arab world.

Source 4: “The ‘Facebook Girl’ Who Started Egypt’s Revolution Is Now Hated in Her Own Country.
Georgy, Michael. “The ‘Facebook Girl’ Who Started Egypt’s Revolution Is Now Hated in Her Own Country.” The Independent, Independent Digital News and Media, 25 Jan. 2016, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/esraa-abdel-fattah-how-the-facebook-girl-who-started-egypt-s-revolution-became-hated-in-her-own-a6832686.html.

This is an interesting article for my paper because prior to reading it, I wasn’t familiar with Facebook Girl. I was aware that there were major leaders in the Arab Spring movement but I did not know that this girl is the most famous one. It is also interesting how her country hates her now. I don’t really think that is relevant to my research but I know that her activism is one of the main reasons why the Arab Spring was widely reported on. I hope to do some research on her and other activists. They played a significant role in the Arab Spring. Facebook Girl was one of the main organizers for protest in Egypt. She created pages that provided information on what was being protested and constantly gathered people. She risked her life in doing so. I hope to keep doing more research on Facebook Girl to learn how she amassed a large following during the revolution.

Source 5: “It Was a ‘Facebook Revolution’: Exploring the Meme-like Spread of Narratives during the Egyptian Protests.”

Harlow, Summer. “It Was a ‘Facebook Revolution’: Exploring the Meme-like Spread of Narratives during the Egyptian Protests.” Revista de Comunicación, vol. 12, Dec. 2013, pp. 59–82. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=92630500&site=ehost-live&scope=site.

Some people call the Arab Spring a “Facebook Revolution”. This is a fitting title for it since the video of Bouazizi lighting himself on fire made it on Facebook and across the world in a matter of moments. His suicide was the beginning of this lengthy revolution that occurred in many different countries. According to many sources without Facebook, this revolution would not have been possible without Facebook and Twitter. The goal of my research is to stress and express that this revolution is the first of its kind. New technologies and new forms of media are what allowed for this revolution to be the first of its kind. It will also not be the last type of social media revolution because new technologies have created a world that allows for people to quickly share what is happening in their countries while demanding change.


Source 6: “Framing the Online Women’s Movements in the Arab World.”

Al-Rawi, Ahmed. “Framing the Online Women’s Movements in the Arab World.” Information, Communication & Society, vol. 17, no. 9, Oct. 2014, pp. 1147–1161. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/1369118X.2014.889190.

Women will forever be remembered for their bravery during the Arab Spring. Women were the main activist during these revolutions. Many notable figures of the Arab Spring were women so I like that this source makes that very clear. “This study The events of the Arab Spring led to several reforms in the Arab world and facilitated the creation of feminist movements. Social networking sites such as Facebook were used as tools to promote this kind of online activism and create a collective secular identity for the members of these movements. This study investigated over 220,000 Facebook posts and comments taken from three online feminist movements which supported gender equality in the Arab world.” I think that this will be very useful to my research.

Website Reflection

Late work due to joining the class late.

I have no issue with creating a website. I have never used WordPress so I am a bit unfamiliar with the website so it might take me some time to create a visually pleasing website. To me, the appearance of the website is as important as the content. For example, if I go on someone’s blog and it isn’t visually pleasing, I am more likely to exit the page. Below is a screenshot of my private blog. I track my mental health through my writing. I do not do much to promote it, but it is available for those who may stumble upon my social media pages and click my website. I really enjoy colors so my website is very colorful. At the same time, it is quite minimalistic because I also enjoy simplicity. My goals for the semester is to make my website visually pleasing. I am going to work through the themes and perhaps customize one. I used to use Tumblr so I am quite familiar with making websites.

I haven’t really played around with WordPress yet so I do not know what struggles I might encounter. I do know that I am struggling to change the background of my website. It changed the area surrounding the text and not the area that the actual text is on. I do think that this might have to do with the theme so I look forward to figuring this out.

Internet Revolutions

The Arab Spring is also known as a social media revolution.  With the help of Facebook, the world quickly knew about what was happening in the Arab World. Facebook helped to show the world the rebellions that were occurring across many nations. Social media was the driving force behind the Arab Spring. Mohamed Bouazizi, the man who set himself on fire, will be forever remembered in history. He marched in front of a government building and set himself on fire in protest of the Tunisian government. His suicide was documented by people in the street. These videos then hit the internet and sparked a revolution. What happened in Tunisia sparked multiple uprisings in different countries.

An activist in Egypt even became known as “Facebook Girl”. Her and other activists were incredibly active on social media during the Egyptian rebellion. They demanded democracy and spread the news about the injustices that were occurring in Egypt. During the Arab Spring, her and other activist created a website to encourage young people to strike.

I think about the Arab Spring revolution a lot because it is the first of its kind. Without the video of Bouazizi lighting himself on fire making it to the internet, it is unlikely that the Arab Spring would have started. The rest of the world was able to see the frustrations of Arab world through that video. When thinking of the Arab Spring, Bouazizi and social media will always be mentioned. The use of technology was critical in the Arab Spring. The protest that happened after Bouazizi’s death helped to raise global awareness of the protest. Social media was a tool because it helped to quickly spread what was happening in Tunisia across the world.

These viral protests inspired many other nations in the Arab world. Governments began to fall apart with the help of social media. The world became tuned into what was happening in the Arab world. Young people were mainly responsible for using social media and garnering attention for the things that were occurring in their country.  The media also recorded the movements of young protestors.

During the uprising, people created online networks to unite activists. People used their cellphones to record what was going on during their protest so that they could upload it online. It is believed that “News [or social media outlets] that use bit.ly links are more likely to spread information outside of the region than inside it, acting like a megaphone more than a rallying cry.” (Pew Research Center) At the time, major news outlets could not even keep up with the recordings of protestors. 

Although, I will not be writing about the Arab Spring, I wanted to provide a brief history of it and how social media was important in it. Most recently, there has been turmoil in Sudan.  The Sudanese people were protesting against their government. All of the protests were nonviolent until the government started killing innocent people. Major news outlets in the Western world were essentially silent on the violence occurring in Sudan and those who knew about it were incredibly frustrated that there was/is minimal coverage. People begged for newspapers like CNN to write more articles about Sudan and to spread awareness but no one was doing it. During the violence in Sudan, the government turned off the internet in the entire country. They hoped that the removal of the internet would decrease and eventually cease all protest. This was not the case. People found out that Sudan’s internet was shut off and decided to take action. Within a few days, hundreds of thousands of instagram users changed their avi to a blue color to raise awareness of what was happening in Sudan. Even though the government had shut down the internet, people were still able to record what was happening in Sudan. The shutdown of the government did not end the revolution rather it intensified it. More people became aware about what was happening in Sudan. Hashtags were made. Many celebrities began to post about it. Fundraisers were created. So much came into fruition because of social media.

From these two examples, I have seen that social media can be an immense weapon against governments. It can play a major role in dismantling government systems and I would like my research to focus on Sudan and the power of social media. Without social media, the world would have remained silent about Sudan. Social media is the only reason why people were able to find out what was going on in Sudan. Without it, millions of people would not have been aware of the dire situation.

This topic relates to my life because I have Sudanese friends who kept me aware of the situation while it was happening. However, when I tried to bring about what was happening in the Sudanese government in casual conversations with other people, no one knew what I was talking about until everyone started changing their avi’s to blue for Sudan.

Sometimes people only become aware of things when they start to trend on social media. I see that a lot. I am also happy to exist during a time where a simple hashtag can change millions of lives. For example, because of the social media awareness, people were able to raise funds for Sudan and send it to the country. These funds helped to provide food, shelter, and medical assistance to those in need. I mainly learned about this topic from my Sudanese friends and social media. Whenever I saw Sudan trending on twitter, I would click on it to learn more information. However, they were not many articles about the uprising so I struggled to inform myself on the topic until the hashtags. When Sudanese celebrities began speaking about the revolution, I also began to learn more about the topic.

I find it so interesting that social media can really save lives. I also find it interesting that governments recognize the power of social media. This is the only reason the internet was shut down in Sudan in the first place. 

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