How to make a Facebook Revolution–The Tunisian Model The blog NDItech DemocracyWorks remarked on the situation, writing that despite remarkable levels of censorship the protesters “have been assisted by external online activists, notably the collective known as Anonymous. Allies of the regime have reportedly engaged equally enthusiastically, utilizing phishing, censoring, and hacking against activists.”

The “hacktivist” group Anonymous has sided with protesters in Tunisia and posted multiple videos on YouTube about the situation. Some videos contain graphic images of violence in the country that Anonymous says were shared with them by Tunisian demonstrators. More than 3,000 videos on YouTube have been tagged with the words “Sidi Bouzid,” the city where many of the protests have taken place and where Mohamed Bouazizi engulfed himself in flames. Thousands of tweets have been sent about the protests, so many that “Tunisia” was a trending topic in San Francisco earlier on Friday. “We might be able to provide thoughtful analysis after all the events of Tunisia unfold. But, right now, along with the rest of the world, we sit back and watch in awe at how people are using Twitter and other platforms to provide on-the-ground perspective during this highly developing and potentially historical moment,” said Carolyn Penner, a Twitter spokeswoman. 

According to NDItech, some have estimated that tweets with the hashtag #sidibouzid have been sent out at a rate of about 28,000 per hour since Dec. 27. “It requires careful reading to find informative sources of information and updates,” the website wrote about the estimate. Another example of demonstrators in Tunisia using the Web to get their messages out is the creation of a website called TuniLeaks, which collects U.S. diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks that have to do with Tunisia. Discussions over the cables and what they mean for the nation have taken place at TuniLeaks since it launched in November. The documents include those about human rights violations in Tunisia and censorship of free speech. The site also led to a Twitter hashtag of #tunileaks to identify when tweets referred to the website.  Facebook revolution : Distrustful of state media, Tunisians have been using social networks – and WikiLeaks – to publicize their own version of events.

Belhaj is 28. He studied political science in Brussels, and returned to Tunisia a year ago. Like many other educated middle-class members of his generation, he was unable to find work. He spends much of his time on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks. Two months ago, he says, when WikiLeaks published the U.S. State Department documents, “I decided to translate into Arabic and French the documents about Tunisia. Of course, the citizens of Tunisia already knew these things, but this made it official.” “Whether it’s cash, services, land, property – or, yes, even your yacht – President Ben Ali’s family is rumored to covet it and reportedly gets what it wants,” an American diplomat informed Washington. Belhaj translated it all.

“I knew the media here, which is under government control, would not publish it in any form, nor would the Arab press. Facebook was the way to sidestep censorship.” He posted the translations on a Facebook page via an account he opened under the name Hamadi Kaloucha. Within a week he had 170,000 readers. It took the authorities a month to delete the page, but by then hundreds of bloggers and Internet users in Tunisia, along with Tunisians living abroad and people from other Arab countries, had copied and reposted the translations. “It gave frustrated people information that appeared to be reliable, in place of the whispered rumors,” Belhaj explains. WikiLeaks, Twitter and Facebook were the fuel for the revolution”, he says. “Bouazizi was the spark that ignited it all.” “After they arrested him without telling me where they were taking him,” says Belhaj’s wife, Ayish, who is 25, “I went on Facebook and recruited people to spread his story. The authorities could not ignore that.”

An estimated more than 20 percent of Tunisia’s inhabitants use Facebook. Fatma Marwadi-Sudi, 53, a French teacher at a Tunis high school, says, “Since the demonstrations started I have been on the computer a few hours every day, looking for material, blogs, announcements and video clips from demonstrations, and I have forwarded them to others.” Tunisians do not trust the media, which is controlled by the ruling Constitutional Democratic Rally party. “Television here did not show the demonstrations,” Marwadi-Sudi says. “Everything we knew we got online. Our inspiration came from the demonstrations last year in Iran after the elections there.”

About Alex Imreh 0742-669918
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2 Responses to How to make a Facebook Revolution–The Tunisian Model

  1. Pingback: The Revolutionary Wave of 2011? « Reflections on a Revolution

  2. Pingback: The Jazz of Revolution: a mad man’s resolution | Reflections on a Revolution ROAR

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