March 9, 2011

Social Media, i.e. Facebook, Reveals Heat in the Middle East

Filed under: Uncategorized — publicandprivatespace @ 6:51 pm

By: Joe Haas

Last month the Middle East sparked into a roaring flame of turmoil after Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire. The man grew sick and tired of the oppression from the Tanzanian government, and decided to engage in self-immolation to protest the deplorable conditions in his nation.  This act was caught on phones and cameras by bystanders who, in turn, uploaded their pictures and videos to Facebook.  Check out this photo.

Via Facebook and Twitter, word spread quickly around Tanzania that a man became a martyr; and before too long, protesters drove out the corrupt government.  Because of social media (primarily Facebook), the people of Tanzania and Egypt were able to rally support for their causes. These countries utilized Facebook’s capacity to disseminate information.  In my interview with Dr.Johnson, I learned of how the people of Egypt were able to export the truth by uploading information, pictures, and videos to Facebook.

With the truth spreading around the globe, many nations backed the people of Egypt.  Knowing this, the government had no choice but to give in to the demands of their people.  It could not intervene in the protests by force; otherwise, it would have paid heavy international consequences.  Now there is chaos in Libya.  That government saw how the governments of Tanzania and Egypt lost their power, and decided to forcibly make their people stop protesting.  The world knows what is happening to the people of Libya, the only question is: what will the world do?

Facebook is a powerful tool that can be used to spread knowledge and information.  The same website that millions of people use every day for entertainment and keeping tabs on one another is the tool that two major middle eastern countries.  The fact that such a simple seemingly ordinary website can be used as a tool for social and political change is amazing.



  1. I agree that what Facebook can do is shocking from ruining a potential job to liberating a country from an oppressive government. Facebook and other internet based communication methods take on the same role as past communication technologies did such as the printing press or telegraph or radio or telephone or television. With every iteration of a new communication method a broader audience can be achieved, and the effectiveness in which the audience can be influenced is greater. While it is terrible that there is such turmoil and that someone would go to the lengths of immolating himself, it is amazing that an online program that we all use can cause such big changes. It is interesting to try to fathom what will be the next big communication advance and what affects it will have on cultures and societies. If what we have right now can cause a government to give in to the people, what will the future hold?

    Comment by publicandprivatespace — March 9, 2011 @ 8:09 pm | Reply

  2. Your blog made me see a side of Facebook that i may have never seen otherwise. All i ever seem to hear about is the “invasion” of privacy by Facebook. TO be shown an argument that Facebook is a very useful tool against discrimination all over the world brings joy to my heart. My only worry is for the countries whom already limit internet activity. The people of such countries are not able to spread there woes so quickly via resources like Facebook. Although it is a bit of a stretch, i think your your blog also brings light to the need to limit internet censorship across the world.

    Philip Steinke

    Comment by publicandprivatespace — March 11, 2011 @ 11:47 am | Reply

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