Virtually Islamic Blog

Professor Gary R. Bunt

Social media and the 'Arab Uprising'

Washington Post, Eight years after Egypt’s revolution, here’s what we’ve learned about social media and protest

"Did Facebook and Twitter play any meaningful role in bringing down the Mubarak regime? In a recent study, we found that they did but that their importance was more limited than some of the breathless early coverage suggested. Specifically, we look at how social media was used to organize one key event — the Jan. 25, 2011, “Police Day” protests in Egypt that set the revolution in motion." [Authors: Killian Clarke and Korhan Koçak]. Also see Clarke, K., & Kocak, K. (n.d.). Launching Revolution: Social Media and the Egyptian Uprising’s First Movers. British Journal of Political Science, 1-21. doi:10.1017/S0007123418000194. ABSTRACT: "Drawing on evidence from the 2011 Egyptian uprising, this article demonstrates how the use of two social media platforms – Facebook and Twitter – contributed to a discrete mobilizational outcome: the staging of a successful first protest in a revolutionary cascade, referred to here as ‘first-mover mobilization’. Specifically, it argues that these two platforms facilitated the staging of a large, nationwide and seemingly leaderless protest on 25 January 2011, which signaled to hesitant but sympathetic Egyptians that a revolution might be in the making. It draws on qualitative and quantitative evidence, including interviews, social media data and surveys, to analyze three mechanisms that linked these platforms to the success of the January 25 protest: (1) protester recruitment, (2) protest planning and coordination, and (3) live updating about protest logistics. The article not only contributes to debates about the role of the Internet in the Arab Spring and other recent waves of mobilization, but also demonstrates how scholarship on the Internet in politics might move toward making more discrete, empirically grounded causal claims."
I wrote about this issue in Arab Society in Revolt: The West's Mediterranean Challenge, Edited by Cesare Merlini and Olivier Roy (Brookings, 2012)

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