Monday, January 17, 2011

Was it WikiLeaks or human revolution in Tunisia?

Here is an interesting YouTube video that probes on the role of the social media in the recent uprising in the northern African nation, Tunisia that overthrew former President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.
According to Andrew Sullivan's blog, "There seems little doubt that the Wikileaks-released cable describing the opulence of now former president Ben Ali's lifestyle played a key part in bringing him down."
Sullivan also said in another blog entry, "What’s fascinating to me is that the events of the past three weeks in Tunisia might actually represent a 'Twitter revolution', as has been previously promised in Moldova and in Iran."
"There’s been virtually no coverage of the riots and protests in the thoroughly compromised local media--to understand what’s going on in their country, many Tunisians are turning to YouTube and DailyMotion videos, to blogs, Twitter and especially Facebook. The government hasn’t made it easy to access these sites--not only are several social media platforms blocked, they appear to be conducting phishing attacks on users of Gmail, Facebook and other online services."
However, Jillian C. York thought otherwise. She said that it is too soon to tell the impact of the social media on the events over the past weeks.
"Now, I’m not about to discount social media's relationship to the Tunisian uprising. For one, it most certainly played a huge role in getting videos, photos, and news out to the world–-and not just to a public audience, but to news organizations as well," York said in her blog.
She further said, "But to call this a 'Twitter revolution' or even a 'WikiLeaks revolution' demonstrates that we haven’t learned anything from past experiences in Moldova and Iran."
"Would this revolution have happened if there were no Facebook and Twitter? And in this case, yes, I–like most Tunisians to whom I’ve posed this question–believe that this would have happened without the Internet."
Author's note: So, there you have it. Whether there was a role for the Internet or not, it's up for you to decide. The important thing is the people in Tunisia have spoken.

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