In this Essay, the role of social media in progressive political change is examined in the context of the Arab Spring uprisings. The concept of social media is explained, and Clay Shirky’s arguments for and Malcolm Gladwell’s arguments against the importance of social media in revolutions are analyzed. An account of the Arab Spring (to date) is then given, including the apparent role of social media. Evgeny Morozov’s arguments are then outlined, including his contentions that social media and the Internet can be tools of oppression rather than emancipation, and spreaders of hate and propaganda rather than tolerance and democracy. The United States’ policy on Internet freedom is also critiqued. Finally, the role, responsibility, and accountability of social media companies in facilitating revolution are discussed.
Social Media, Political Change, and Human Rights,
B.C. Int'l & Comp. L. Rev.