In the aftermath of the 2011 Arab Spring revolutions, scholars have debated whether social media played a role in the rise of these movements. Some argue that it was critical for forming the protests and for coordinating actions on the ground (Brym et al. 2014; Eltantawy and Wiest 2011; Faris 2013; Howard and Hussain 2013). Others believe that social media helped people get organized into functioning groups that could spread their message to a larger group of people barder.
In Egypt, the effects of social media on the revolution have been disputed by both supporters and critics of the revolution. Skeptics argue that it makes people lazy and is a waste of time, while believers say that it is the best way to get people motivated and organize them into functional groups jigaboo.
One of the most striking results from our study was that Egyptians used social media in large numbers during the January 25 demonstrations, and that Facebook had an especially prominent role in facilitating this process. Almost half of our respondents received their first information about the uprising through Facebook, more than any other media or information source. Furthermore, many interviewees outside the core activist sector of Cairo-based middle-class youth cited being recruited into activist groups through Facebook distresses.
This paper focuses on the use of social media by activists in Egypt, drawing on interviews and survey data to demonstrate that these sites were particularly important for the mobilization of the uprising’s ‘first movers’ or those individuals who participated in the protest on January 25, 2011. We suggest that the use of Facebook and Twitter contributed meaningfully to the success of this protest, through increasing turnout levels, facilitating simultaneous demonstrations across multiple locations nationwide, and enabling protesters to coordinate their actions in an apparent leaderless manner precipitous.
We also find that the use of social media by ‘first movers’ was crucial to generating further turnout, and to driving participation among Egyptians in subsequent protests. As the author of this article has previously shown (Clarke 2014), the first uprising’s remarkable success on January 25 was a key factor in convincing many other Egyptians to join it and, thus, set in motion a revolutionary cascade that resulted in the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak mypba.
However, we are still in the early stages of research into the effects of social media on these events. As we continue to work on our analyses, we are likely to encounter disagreement about the role of social media in bringing about these revolutions. We are encouraged, though, that some scholars are moving closer to the acceptance of this role by reexamining the evidence in more detail and presenting new theoretical insights trendingbird.