Image: Al Jazeera, Timeline: Egypt's revolution, Camille Ralston - MAIC 7300 - Valdosta State University
SOCIAL PLATFORMS, MAINLY TWITTER, PLAYED A PROMINENT ROLE IN THE RESIGNATION OF EX-PRESIDENT MUBARAK.
In January 2001, activists in Egypt called for an uprising to protest against poverty, unemployment, government corruption and the rule of president Hosni Mubarak, who had been in power for three decades (Timeline: Egypt's Revolution," Al Jazeera, 2011).
HOW COULD TWITTER CREATE A PLATFORM FOR AN UPRISING?
Twitter provided an alternative platform to a dominate mainstream news economy. It afforded visibility to marginalized voices and enabled alternative narratives about the situation to enter the conversation. Social media provided and "always-on" and "ambient" news platform that persisted even when the Egyptian government shut down the Internet (Meraz and Papacharissi, 2013).
What characteristics of Twitter allowed for the spread of revolution-themed news?
Networked publics came about in this argument through the use of text, hashtags, and addressivity markers. #Egypt was a predominant hashtag that led the Twittersphere into a conversation that led to a revolution. Mentions, which spurred on affect sentiment and homophily, united people with like-minded intentions. Remote connectivity allowed for an "always-on" feel, equivalent to that of a live broadcast of breaking news (Meraz and Papacharissi, 2013).
Blogger, Citizen Journalism, and new media activism
In a more general sense, new media has become very popular in Arab countries where there is a lack of media freedom. Online groups of bloggers, Facebook-ers, Tweeters, and Citizen Journalists have the ability to become the focal point in any uprising or political affair (McPhail, 2014).
Remember...political uprisings = human revolutions = human cost and sacrifice
Meraz and Papacharissi (2013) remind us to remember that political uprisings, even through platforms such as Twitter, equal human cost and sacrifices. In the 2011 Egyptian revolution, there were many who made sacrifices and many who lost their lives. Social media provided a platform for networked publics (or networked protestors) to advance very influential information. This, however, does not mean that there were not people on the ground facing very difficult, very dangerous circumstances.
WHAT HAPPENED IN THE END?
It's safe to say that new media, specifically Twitter and other platforms of social media, united a nation who was against their leader. It helped spread valuable information, as well as give users a sense of homophiliy, most likely encouraging even more persistence on the ground in Tahrir Square. On February 11, tens of thousands people took to the streets across Egypt and Hosni Mubarak resigned as president. He handed over power to the army (Timeline: Egypt's Revolution," Al Jazeera, 2011).
McPhail, T. L (2014). Global communication: Theories, stakeholders, and trends. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell
Meraz, S., & Papacharissi, Z. (2013). Networked gatekeeping and networked framing on# Egypt. The international journal of press/politics, 18(2), 138-166. Chicago
Timeline: Egypt's revolution. (n.d.). Retrieved March 30, 2017, from http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2011/01/201112515334871490.html