Digital communications and social networks

Co-evolution of digital activism and repression during the Arab Uprisings

Authored by: Ben Wagner

Routledge Handbook of Mediterranean Politics

Print publication date:  August  2017
Online publication date:  August  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138903982
eBook ISBN: 9781315696577
Adobe ISBN:


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Projection and reality of the Arab Uprisings or ‘Arab Spring’ as they are sometimes termed while already high have seldom been more contested than in considering the role of social media and digital technologies. ‘Twitter and Facebook revolutions’ abound in popular discourse and even in some scholarship, although the overwhelming majority of academic scholars working on this topic reject such notions. Moreover the specific configuration of various media and communications technology ecosystems across the Middle East and North Africa needs to be considered. These include as the historic predominance of Egyptian television and language, the rise of the prominence of regional satellite television in recent years and rampant censorship and surveillance across almost all forms of media and communication from the Internet, to television and newspapers. The chapter will trace some of the basic questions about digital communications and social networks during the Arab Uprisings and attempts to provide a clearer perspective on what human beings actually do with technology. Particular attention will be paid to mobile networks and usage of communications as well as state in communications flows to help or hinder certain information. It will also consider the global context within which digital communications and social networks interact with the Arab Uprisings. Finally the conclusion will provide a more coherent narrative for thinking about digital communications within the Arab Uprisings that allows for the existence and usage of technology without unnecessarily foregrounding technically mediated practices.

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