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Social Media in the Arab World: Leading up to the Uprisings of 2011 PDF Print E-mail
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By Jeffrey Ghannam

A Report to the Center for International Media Assistance


Abstract

This paper was commissioned and largely reported in the period leading up to the uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, and elsewhere in the region in early 2011. It is published as a stage-setter for the events that are rapidly unfolding in the Arab world.

The Arab world has experienced an awakening of free expression that has now entered the body politic of Tunisia and Egypt and has helped break down the stranglehold of state-sponsored media and information monopolies in those countries. Indeed, from Morocco to Bahrain, the Arab world has witnessed the rise of an independent vibrant social media and steadily increasing citizen engagement on the Internet that is expected to attract 100 million Arab users by 2015.1 These social networks inform, mobilize, entertain, create communities, increase transparency, and seek to hold governments accountable. To peruse the Arab social media sites, blogs, online videos, and other digital platforms is to witness what is arguably the most dramatic and unprecedented improvement in freedom of expression, association, and access to information in contemporary Arab history.