Tunisia: The First Social Media Revolution

2168 words - 9 pages

In December of 2010 the people of Tunisia, a country located in northern Africa, revolted against their oppressive ruler, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. What triggered this uprising was an “act of desperation,” the self-immolation of 26 year old Mohamed Bouazizi, a Tunisian merchant (The Star). Bouazizi had been an unlicensed vegetable merchant for seven years before his cart was confiscated by a police officer who then “slapped the scrawny young man, spat in his face, and insulted his dead father,” (Abouzied). However, the revolution was also a consequence of the Tunisian government’s sudden transparency, thanks to the government cables published on WikiLeaks.org. Later, people worldwide took to their various social networking accounts and thus created what has been referred to as a social media revolution. Tunisia’s uprising triggered a chain-reaction in other North African states, including but not limited to: Libya, Egypt, Bahrain and Yemen.

Throughout all of the revolutions in Africa that have risen in since December, and even before that, social networking has played a major role in reporting the events; not only do these websites report news posted by its members, social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter have also been the meeting-place for people in these countries to organize themselves to protest. WikiLeaks has been but “a catalyst: both a trigger and a tool for public outcry,” sparking civil disobedience toward the government, and provoking acts of revolt and protest, which has been organized, largely, due to the globalizing effects of Twitter and Facebook (Dickenson). While it is evident that revolutions do not need a meeting-ground for protesters to organize, in the 21st century the internet has had an ever-increasing role in promoting transparency. WikiLeaks is an internet organization that promotes transparency and has been largely involved in sparking the revolution in Tunisia. Similarly, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and other social networking/blogging websites have been reporting on events that the public are generally unaware of and have been acting as a line of communication that promotes organization among protesters. Furthermore, these websites act to establish a lens through which Westerners can look through and be aware of what is happening in the rest of the world. In order to fully understand the role that social networking has played in the recent revolutions, is it necessary for one to determine the filters used in different types of media. Taking into account the many filters used in social networking, along with the role of WikiLeaks, it is apparent that the internet has created an easier way for disgruntled citizens to revolt against their government.

Any type of media has, and always has had, some sort of filter. As long ago as World War II, Hitler took control of the media in Germany and spread propaganda throughout Eastern Europe as a means to advocate for the NSGWP (National Socialist German...

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