Social Media- Revolutionary?

Revolutions rely on social interaction, protests and political unrest. An integral aspect of any revolution is the organisation, mobilisation and the struggle of individuals on a mass scale. Revolutions have always been social. Revolutions will always continue to be social whether or not they are coordinated online. As  argues social media platforms such as Twitter, YouTube, FireChat, and Facebook are simply tools that modern revolutionaries use.

Devin Coldewey a writer for TechCrunch has a similar view – “The people of Egypt made use of what means they had available, just as every oppressed people has in history.” On the issue of ‘social media revolutions my ideas align with Coldewey’s. In my somewhat cyber-realist opinion some social media revolutionaries are not activist but instead slacktivists attempting to gain karma, likes and self-renown.

Despite this, I do recognise the key role that social media now plays in protests and revolutions. The Arab spring movement relied heavily on Twitter for broadcasting information and organisation. Facebook and Youtube played major roles in organising, raising awareness and disseminating information as seen by the Facebook page ‘We are all Khalid Said‘ and by the series of Youtube channel ‘FreeEgypt founded by Asmaa Mahfouz. Social media played a key role and was used alongside the traditional methods of revolutionaries such as marching in streets and mass demonstrations. Most recently, FireChat a peer to peer messaging app has been used by Hong Kong protesters to avoid being disconnected should the government disrupt the internet or communication infrastructure in their struggle for a truly democratic government.

Social media has and will probably continue to play a key role in the organisation, mobilisation and dissemination of revolutionary ideals. This does not mean that one Tweet or a like on Facebook constitutes a revolution. Social media is only revolutionary when combined with social upheaval, social movements and activism.


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