In my last bloggposts I’ve been so far focusing on the marketing perspective on social media marketing, however social media platforms not only have changed the way business and customers interact and opened up for new opportunities, but the Internet and development of technology,exspecially smartphones, has also turned the the receiving consumer into a proactive prosument, beeing consumer and producent at the same time.
The Democratization of the Internet
“…Facebook and Twitter abetted if not enabled the historic
regionwide uprisings of early 2011.”
Evidence for the move towards a digital democracy is the report from June 2011 by Carol Huang in the National based on the second edition of the Arab Social Media Report by the Dubai School of Governance that was filled with facts and data. In the report Huang writes that social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter were used by people to organize demonstrations and to get updated about he current situation because traditional media was either beeing compromised or shut down which finally coluded in the fall of Eypts and Tunisias dictatorial regimes, the rise of the opposition in Syria, Libya, Yemen and Bahrain and more benefits to the population of Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arabian Emirates . Ayman Salah, social media expert and entrepreneur confirms in an interview from Aug 7, 2012 in Digibuzz this view on the important role of social media in the Arab Spring and its continous growth of users. He says that “the Jan 25th Revolution helped in proving that social media can be very effective as a communication platform; it allowed a lot of people to know the news happening in the street while mainstream media was either delayed or denied.” The Wired Reporter from the Simon Fraser University concludes in his blog about the role of social media during the Arab Spring that “perhaps the most important journalistic lesson to come out of the uprisings was that in the face of oppression and censorship, social media defended freedom, including the freedom of the press.”
The polarization of Syrian society
“What if social media played a much more negative role in the Syrian revolution than many think?“
So far most opinions found were utterly positive about the impact of social media on freedom of word and the Arab Spring. Enrico de Angelis writer for the web magazine The New Significance and lecturer at the University of Bologna (Italy), however, asks “What if social media played a much more negative role in the Syrian revolution than many think”
On the contrary to Tunisia and Egypt, the people of Syria are much more divided in their critizism of the regime. The usage of social media to organize protest and foster action has a polarizing effect on the Syrian society. Both groups, the ones working for change and those that want to keep the status qou use social networks to to prove the others wrong, writes Enrico de Angelis. He concludes that
In a context like this, it seems like Syrians who sincerely strive for peaceful changes in the country are being overran by forces beyond their control. Social media have a dynamic of their own. Ironically, the way they are being used may well play into the hands of the current regime.
A country by country approach is needed
So we see that you cannot apply the social media concept as such onto a entire region but that you have to differentiate between countries adjusting to their special conditions. This also raised the question I am going to take up in my next post, namely what role social media currently plays in the middle east and what impact the role of social media during the Arab spring has on the middle east today.