Most people cannot fail to have noticed how the growing use of social media is having more and more impact upon daily life and here at OSM we’ve noted it’s growing use in politics. You’ve probably also heard of the revolution in Tunisia that has led to the president fleeing his country and increasingly it’s being called ‘The Twitter Revolution’ even though all forms of social media have played their part.
The disturbances in Tunisia have stemmed from the economic situation, with high unemployment, corruption in the government, censorship and inequality, according to Michael Hughes on The Examiner, sourced from The New York Times. The unrest meant that when a street vendor burnt himself to death after problems with the police, a rebellion soon spread and the reason it spread so quickly was in part due to the use of social media such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and others.
The revolts led to 70 people being shot by the police and the President, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, campaigned against on Facebook with the words “Ben Ali, Out.” Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi, an ally of Ben Ali, then stepped in as interim President but it was not long before the Facebook opposition became, “Ghannouchi Out.”
Other social media aspects of the revolution included Twitter updates with stories of state oppression, police brutality and unrest, and tweet feeds of imminent street protests. “Sidi Bouzid” is the name of the city where many demonstrations occurred and at its centre is the spot where Mohamed Bouazizi, the street vendor, killed himself. Over 30,000 videos have now been placed on YouTube tagged “Sidi Bouzid.”
Other aspects that led to the general feeling of unrest were WikiLeaks cables about corruption in the country and also the Al Jazeera broadcasts which noted the growing unrest before media in the West, and spurred people to unify in a common cause. An article over on CNN by Holly Yan may also interest you as it goes into how Tunisians abroad appreciated Facebook’s role in the events and how the use of Facebook enabled a nation to revolt, so hit the above link if you want to read more.
What are your thoughts on social media enabling a revolution? Maybe you’re in Tunisia and saw how it was used in the events that unfolded? We’d be interested to hear from you so please send us your comments on this.