When the western world first began hearing about Arab Springs it wasn’t the protestor’s issues that were first brought to light, it was the role that social media played in this event.
The western media started using phrases like ‘Twitter Revolution’ and, as stated within ‘Social Media and the Arab Spring: Politics Comes First’, kept focus on protestors using social media to organise and spread their message.
Hisham Matar, an author raised in Libya and Egypt, commented on the western media’s reaction,
“There have been a lot of bold statements about the uprising in Egypt and Tunisia: that they couldn’t have happened without the internet. I think that is an exaggeration.” (Singh, 2011)
Wolfsfeld and his colleagues then stated that it wasn’t social media that began these protests, as many western media sources implied,
“As pointed out by Schectman (2009), only about 8,600 people in Iran were registered with Twitter at the time, out of a total population of seventy million.”
Many other factors were involved within the Arab Springs protests, and it was not purely social media that made these protests possible. However as stated by Newsom & Lengel, the western media spun stories in a light that was attractive to them, rather than what was actually happening. Social media was a tool used in order to aid protestors, rather than the fuel that started the process.
Throughout history there have been many massive protests and revolutions held without the aid of today’s social media, and while today’s protestors may use social media to their advantage it is not the only reason they are able to protest, as many western media sources implied.
Gadi Wolfsfeld, Elad Segev and Tamir Sheafer. “Social Media and the Arab Spring: Politics Comes First.” International Journal of Press/Politics, 18.2 (2013): 115-37.
http://hij.sagepub.com/content/18/2/115 (accessed 22 May 2014)
Victoria A. Newsom and Lara Lengel. “Arab Women, Social Media, and the Arab Spring: Applying the Framework of Digital Reflexivity to Analyze Gender and Online Activism.” Journal of International Women’s Studies, 13.4 (2012): 31-45.
http://vc.bridgew.edu/jiws/vol13/iss5/5/ (accessed 22 May 2014)
Singh, A. (2011). “Ways With Words: role of Twitter and Facebook in Arab Spring uprising ‘overstated’, says Hisham Matar.” The Telegraph. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/ways-with-words/8629294/Ways-With-Words-role-of-Twitter-and-Facebook-in-Arab-Spring-uprising-overstated-says-Hisham-Matar.html (accessed 20 May 2014)