Social media isn’t about permitting your friends to see what is on your mind or for posting pictures of your family vacation in the Bahamas. It is now the biggest factor in social media has quickly become the most influential factors in socio-political organization. The revolution in Egypt that started on January 25 gained publicity amongst Egyptians due to social media tools like Facebook and Twitter. Individuals have used social media to increase government transparency and mobilize like-minded individuals such is the case in Egypt.
On February 9th former President Bill Clinton spoke at New York University to discuss the Dayton Peace Agreement that ended the 1995 Bosnia, Herzegovina and Serbia genocide and war. President Clinton compared the use of constant news media in the case of the Bosnia-Herzegovina Genocide with the role of social media in aiding communication during the recent revolution in Egypt. The former president suggested that the unrelenting news coverage during the Bosnia-Herzegovina Genocide did not even compare to the effect of social media use in Egypt, both captured world-wide attention at different points in time as a result of the constant craving for information. Clinton reflected back on the type and quality of technology available when he was president in 1995 saying, “There were just 50 Internet sites and the average cell phone weighed 5 pounds”. Alongside personal counselor Doug Band, Clinton heads up the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI). Mr. Douglas Band also oversees plenty of foreign operations at the Clinton Global Initiative.
On January 25 2011 after a successful revolution had occurred in Tunisia, many Egyptians took to the streets protesting government corruption, unemployment, poverty as well as the country’s 30 – year autocratic rule by former President Hosini Mubarak. Protesters used social media to show outsiders exactly what was happening on the ground, plan and arrange protests and the governmental and military response to the protesters. After the second day of mass protest in Egypt, and after Associated Press filmed an Egyptian activist and protestor being gunned down, the Internet, texts messages and PDA access to the Internet was shut down by Egyptian government. The government’s effort to shut down communication failed as human rights activist, bloggers, and social media organizations dedicated to free speech used different social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to relay messages from protestors inside Egypt. Their intentions were to assist activists inside Egypt to further political organization and social mobilization. By doing so this allowed the rest of the world to witness current news on what was going on inside of the country.
Two of the most valuable aspects of social media are its ability to make social organization easier and more effective. The social media used by Egyptian protestors not only allowed individuals who shared common political ideas come together, but also provided a medium to plan concrete action. Secondly, social media increases government transparency and accountability. No longer can the global audience be kept in the dark about what is going on in another country. There are too many interconnected individuals using social media creating a transnational network armed with information.
While the events of the Bosnia Herzegovina genocide in 1995 and the recent revolution in Egypt are to completely separate events with not much similar in politics or history, the human desire for information is very much the same. At many points in history individuals have combined ingenuity, passion and technology so as to link themselves with people and societies far from themselves.