What started as the WikiLeaks Revolution has sparked the spread of change across the Middle East; Social media has empowered oppressed people into revolution. Common people with little access to the World Wide Web because of censored internet connections have still found loopholes with smartphones and social media networks like Twitter, Facebook and Youtube to communicate, mobilize, and force change in long standing governments.
In what has become known as the internet black hole the governments of Burma, China, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam have effectively blocked targeted internet access to information and often shut off access to any internet completely. The government of Iran is actually aggressively planning it’s own Muslum Internet to censor all information accessed within it’s own territory and plans to spread it across the Middle East eventually replacing the World Wide Web. Ali Aghamohammadi, Iran’s head of economic affairs, describes this ”Halal Global Network” this way:
“the new network would at first operate in parallel to the normal Internet — banks, government ministries and large companies would continue to have access to the regular Internet. Eventually, the national network could replace the global Internet in Iran, as well as in other Muslim countries.”
Despite the efforts of these governments to censor information from leaving their borders the people of these countries have paid with their blood to successfully distribute the social media out onto the World Wide Web demanding change. These have been picked up by the major news networks and kept the flame of revolution ignited. By smuggling videos and messages hidden on tiny SIM cards to relatives and news reporters and publishing media via smartphones the people of the Middle East continue to revolt against their oppressive government embracing social networks Twitter, Youtube and Facebook as their weapon of choice. As it turns out it may be the only weapon they have against these repressive regimes.
Egyptian and Google executive Wael Ghonim started a Facebook Fanpage “We are all Khaled Said” in honor of a young man, Khaled Said, who was brutally attacked and eventually killed by policemen. His page, which currently has 125,103 fans, sparked anger not only in Egyptians, but also in people all over the world. Ghonim was able to spread the news of the Egyptian revolution to anyone and everyone and is largely credited with sparking the revolution that toppled the Egyptian government. He also used his Twitter account to tweet up-to-the-minute accounts of what was going on in the streets of Egypt.
By using these social networks people around the world can keep up with exactly what is going on in these countries and they can publically show their support. During the Egyptian revolution, many people on Facebook, worldwide changed their profile picture to the Egyptian flag, showing their support for the people of Egypt. Now we see in Syria the Youtube videos of what the government is doing to it’s own people within it’s borders including the young boy who was brutally tortured and killed by the Syrian Government. With up to the minute information being published on social networks Twitter, Facebook and Youtube by the people themselves many are turning to these social networks to get the news coming out of the Middle East.
While some critics argue that too much credit is being given to social media and not enough is being given to the protesters themselves, I think we can all agree that the revolutions may not have played out the same way if Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube hadn’t been involved.
Email Bruce@EmmeGirls.com 001 202 436 6577