The limits of citizen journalism 3

Why were new media able to topple governments in Egypt and Tunisia, but sparked new waves of oppression in Syria and Iran?

During the Arab Spring last year, citizen journalists, using Facebook, Twitter, email and iPhones, undermined state censorship and contributed to the success of massive pro-democracy demonstrations in Cairo and Tunis. Yet in Iran, many of the activists were arrested while in  the case of the Iranian ally, Syria, the government simply attacked with tanks.

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Citizen journalism and social change 4

Citizen Journalism can flourish where mainstream journalists have been corrupted or censored by governments and corporations.

Writing in his new book, Revolution 2.0, Wael Ghonim said that social media armed pro democracy activists against the State’s  “weapons of mass oppression”. During last year’s Arab Spring demonstrations in Egypt, the internet was used to keep activist organisers at arms length from security forces.

Ghonim, an Egyptian born  Google executive, operated out of the relative safety of Dubai, while he ran his virtual campaign against the Egyptian government. When he did come home to Egypt, prior to the major demonstrations on January 25, 2011, he was promptly disappeared by security forces who isolated him and subjected him to psychological tortures. Google meanwhile campaigned for his release. More…