(Originally posted at www.boydneil.com)
The evidence continues to stack up that the social web can be the midwife of political change.
The dissident blogger Slim Amamou is now tweeting from inside the Tunisian cabinet. Having played a major role in the ‘revolution’ itself, he is using Twitter to post comments on progress to word greater freedom in the country and urging continued vigilance by Tunisians.
Blogger Assaad Thebian reports in EMAJ Magazine (“an intercultural magazine, made by a network of young journalists from the Middle East, North Africa and the EU”) that:
In May 2010, a huge campaign called “Free From 404” (Internet language for file not found) was carried out in Tunisia. Twitter hashtags, Facebook profile pictures, articles and videos were created to demonstrate the activists’ refusal of censorship . . .
Later in the same post:
Activists have also been uploading videos of demonstrations to YouTube using the hashtag #sidibouzid (the province where the demonstrations first began last month). Facebook pages such as: “Tunisian News Agency” were the main sources of minute by minute news with live coverage by photos and videos, with thousands joining.
And here is what Alexis Madrigal, a senior editor at The Atlantic, had to say today about Facebook’s role both in preventing Tunisian hackers (from Ammar, the nickname given to the secret police censoring the country’s Internet) and serving as staging ground for Tunisian opposition:
There has been a lot of debate about whether Twitter helped unleash the massive changes that led Ben Ali to leave office on January 14, but Facebook appears to have played a more important role in spreading dissent.
‘I think Facebook played a bigger role in this case,’ said Jillian York of the Berkman Center for the Internet and Society, who has been tracking the Tunisian situation closely. ‘There are a lot more Facebook users than Twitter users. Facebook allows for strong ties in a way that Twitter doesn’t. You’re not just conversing.’
I will keep a record on this blog of these examples of successful social web activism given the rush among some public intellectuals to dismiss online advocacy with the same condescension they once discarded the social web as a “waste of time”.