Social Media Revolutions: All Hype or New Reality?
New forms of social media have begun to play an increasingly significant role in human interaction. This phenomenon, often referred to as the “social media revolution,” has greatly impacted political dynamics on a global scale. By enabling users to express themselves publicly in ways previously unavailable to them, social media such as Facebook and Twitter have bequeathed new power to the individual. The Arab Spring of 2011 showed that the scale of social media outreach and its “real time,” interactive elements add new and complicated dimensions to political movements and international diplomacy, and there remain many unknowns about the potential outcomes of social media connections. To better understand these emerging dynamics, the Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination convened a workshop and panel discussion focusing on social media in April 2011. In the resulting report, participants analyze the impact of digital tools, social networking, and the Internet in the coordination of democratic movements against authoritarian states, with a specific focus on the Middle East and North Africa.