Social Media and the Egyptian Revolution

Topics: Sociology, Social media, Social movement Pages: 6 (1840 words) Published: January 26, 2014
January 2011 marked the beginning of peaceful protests and movement demonstrations staged by citizens throughout Egypt. Movement actors fought for democratic advances, political freedoms and equality. The genuine commitment for change, the unity of the people and most notably the tactful manipulation of social media resulted in the disposition of the suppressive regime. Modern social media has significantly changed the traditional forms of activism and has simplified the efforts needed to provoke civic mobilization. Social media applications such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube hold the dynamic power to manipulate, control, inform and motivate. Essentially, they have become excellent tools for activists. This paper seeks to describe and assess specifically the relationship between social media and the Egyptian Revolution. Building on this foundation, this essay will prove that social media platforms were the major catalysts for social change in Egypt. To begin, social media, or more precisely Twitter and Facebook, defined and formed the movement's collective identity. These platforms represented safe environments that permitted individuals to consult about common grievances and share revolutionary ideas (Comunello & Anzera, 2012; 466). Furthermore, social media applications played key roles in facilitating the efforts needed for communication, organization, and recruitment (ibid). These applications were highly trusted as they allowed activists to network effortlessly and moreover, assisted in turning rational individuals into constituents. Lastly, social media aided in attracting global support and 'helped spread democratic ideas across international borders' (Comunello & Anzera, 2012; 466). By referencing the works of scholars such as Kenneth Pollack, Halim Rane and Francesca Communello, this paper will prove social media as the underlying force of the Egyptian revolution. To begin, the conversations held on Facebook and Twitter shaped the collective identity that would make 'individuals feel capable of effecting change' (Staggenborg, 2008; 191). Twitter and Facebook were the underlying catalytic forces of the movement as they provided a space that would allow Egyptians to publically aspire for changes and 'express opposition to the existing order' (Doran, 2011; 41). "We Are All Khaled Said" was a Facebook page that established Khaled Said's death as the spark of the Egyptian movement. With Said's brutally beaten face as the banner, this page quickly spurred anger as it emphasized both the unreasonable level of cruelty that was exerted towards him and as well as the oppression Egyptians faced daily. Remarkably over the course of a few weeks, half a million Egyptians were on Facebook, expressing their anger and sharing their grievances over police brutality, rising food prices and corruption. This platform page assisted in framing the movement "in terms of demands for dignity, justice, freedom and democracy" (Rane et al, 2012; 80). The establishment of the movement's frame gave rise to many other Facebook pages. These highlighted the corrupted practices of the government and educated both constituents and adherents to the movement about democracy and its benefits. Facebook succeeded in breaking down the psychological fear barrier that obstructed Egyptians from participating. Once fear was no longer an issue, the Egyptian social capital progressed intensively as the collective consciousness emerged. Facebook was used as a mobilization structure that would undeniably give back the power to the people and restore their self esteem. Correspondingly, Tunisia's success in toppling their dictator, had inspired a wave of revolutions in the Middle-East. Socio-political debates and ideas of democratic advances in Egypt were highly influenced by the current events in Tunisia. These influences had left a marginal impact on the Egyptian collective identity. By using social media platforms, Tunisian activists guided their Egyptian...

Bibliography: Comunello F., & Guiseppe A. (2012). "Will the Revolution be tweeted? A conceptual framework for understanding the social media and the Arab Spring". Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations. (23) pp. 453-470.
Doran, Michael. (2011). The Impact of New Media: The Revolution will be tweeted. Washington DC: The Brookings Institutions. 2011
Howard P., & Duffy A. (2011). "Opening Closed Regimes: What was the Role of social Media During the Arab Spring?". Project on Information Technology & Political Islam. pp. 1-30
Idle N. and Nunns A. (2011). Tweets from Tahrir: Egypt 's Revolution As It Unfolded, in the Words of the People Who Made It. New York: OR Books. 2011
Khamis S., & Vaughn K. (2011). "Cyberactivism in the Egyptian Revolution: How Civic Engagement and Citizen Journalism Titled the Balance". Arab Media and Society. (14)
Rane H., & Salem S. (2012). Social media, social movements and the diffusion of ideas in the Arab Revolutions. Australia: MUP Academic Monographs. 2012
Staggenborg, Suzanne. (2012). Social Movements. Canada: Oxford University Press. 2012
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