Nowadays, technological advancement has had adverse effects on many sectors of the economy. For example, the advent of the Internet that dates back to the 1990s has brought a significant change in many people’s ways of life. The population connected through networks has grown from millions to billions. However, just in the midst of such a growth, social media have turned to an aspect of life especially in the civil arena. Such aspect involves the participation of governments, software providers, telecommunications firms, nongovernmental organization, activists as well as regular citizens. The role that the social media play in political protest has been a subject that has led to much concern in the entire world (Breuer, 2012). The main question whether it is possible for social platforms, which include Facebook as well as twitter to cause a revolution remains. In the current days of technology and computers, researchers have pointed out that many uprisings gain roots from social platforms. For example, some well-known protests that were fuelled by social media influence include the Tunisian revolution, Occupy Wall Street, and Arab Spring among others.
In the case of the Tunisian revolution, the presence of a broad base of support for the uprising through media influence was enough to mobilize and oust President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali back in 2011. According to Satell (2014), the uprising would not have succeeded if the revolution had it not brought together forces from all walks of life. In addition, the availability of social media and modern communication technologies has played a major role in bringing people to a common goal during the Tunisian and Square of Tahirr revolution. Social media during this time acted as an identity, through which the protest action was supported and provided with an element of an emotional grievance that carried an aspect of sharing as well as mobilization.
During the Arab Spring, the role that the social media played was very significant to the extent that the following political protest were named “Twitter revolutions”. Regardless of the dominance of social media’s role in such protests, still a number of people, Malcolm Gladwell included, were quick to downplay the role of social media arguing that there was a need for hierarchy in order to reach an organized action. However, from the effect of the revolution, one would see the role of social media.
As such, it is observable that in areas that are hit by protests, social networks always have a high input. The social networks are mediated through the presence of online platforms such as Facebook, twitter, etc.. Just as Lievrouw and Livingstone (2002) point out, production and dissemination of information nowadays has become an easy and fast process with the introduction of social media. As such, it becomes extremely hard to contain any information regarding impending or ongoing protests. In the case study of the Tunisian revolution, research has established that the protest was organized by way of social communication. While some people passed on text messages, many others actively documented and shared any necessary images that would act to draw the other people to the protests. Evidently, in this era, it suffices to have a blanket conclusion that social media positions itself as a key player in fuelling political protests (Roshan, Warren and Carr 2013).
It is thus important to be aware of the extent that social media can be used in stirring up political protests. Such knowledge is important as it provides insights on how to ensure that measures are taken to curb social media documentation and sharing of data that can be used for political unrest in any region. Through such initiatives, according to Dmitrieva (2013), political protests that result from social media influence are likely to minimize.
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