Social Media, American Interests, and the Arab Spring
AbstractThe events of the Arab Spring that began in 2010 changed the political face of many countries, including Egypt and Tunisia. The role the Internet played in fomenting activism against authoritarian governments on the Arabian Peninsula has been explored at length in the popular media in both the West and the East, with various reports either overstating or underrating its importance. The contribution of the Internet to the events of the Arab Spring has led to support of the idea that open access and a free Internet is necessarily a force for good. This paper contests that idea, exploring examples that highlight the dangers in believing it. While the ability of social media to reach large audiences in short periods, and allow them to not only view information, but contribute to it, influenced the quick spread of the Arab Spring, this was a feature of the uprisings, and not the cause of them.
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