Tunisia's Twitter Revolution?

Friday, January 21, 2011


Demonstrators flooded the streets in Tunisia this week calling for an end to corruption and ousting President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Many have attributed the wave of protests to the rise of the internet and social media in a country notorious for its censorship but Foreign Policy blogger Marc Lynch says it’s not that simple. He says the internet, social media and satellite channels like Al Jazeera have collectively transformed the information landscape in the Arab world.

Comments [9]

Dion Twayne Watson from Southside

Iran and Tunisia are extremely different. If Iran had the same conditions as Tunisia does, then the people could of overthrown Ahmadinejad.

Tunisia has an Army.

Iran has an Army and a Revolutionary Guard.

Mar. 10 2011 11:29 AM
clopha deshotel from Bridgeport CT

Neil makes a good point about "...mass torture and even rape to deter people." I wonder if this will now become part of the rubric in conflicts where women now have access to technology for their voice to be included.

Jan. 27 2011 04:48 PM

First Tunisia, now Egypt.
Dictators ruledp over their constituents by isolating and shielding the outside world. History have shown that many educated people, who also knew of democracy in other countries and therefore pierced through this shield of isolation, often became political prisoners. Seen as a threat to the status-quo of the regime in power. However, technology has made it harder to keep people ignorant of the world. Thanks to Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and countless other social networks, the World has shrinked, and it's social borders, disappeared. Censorship is of the truth and justice, in the spirit of wikileaks, is no longer tolerable.

Jan. 27 2011 03:13 PM
Tony Zeoli from Chapel Hill, NC

I really enjoyed this piece on the debate as to whether Twitter and Facebook are ultimately responsible for causing a revolution or simply supporting a revolutions as a communication tool.

We had a debate in the student led newsroom (@reesenews) here at UNC Chapel Hill. There were those on the side of assigning Twitter credit for the Iranian uprising, while others believe that Twitter--just like any communication tool--assists in supporting a revolution, but is not actually responsible for it.

If you look at the man who lit himself on fire--an event that media reports say sparked the Tunisian revolution--it took one man to use self-immolation as a tool. He didn't tweet his anger, he burned himself to death in a state of despair.

Twitter can't support a revolution if there aren't any on the front lines who do the organizing and perform the activism. Twitter is ultimately not responsible for a revolution, but it is a great tool to distribute information. The hard part is authenticating the data when it comes from unreliable or unknown sources. We, the media, have to be careful because disinformation can be sown just as fast

Jan. 25 2011 03:16 PM
Quentin Hammonds from Raleigh North Carolina

PROTEST because somebody set there self on fire. The guy must be well known. Social networking is todays way of communicating. I could see people getting mad but ultra zero must be loving it because they using it for everything. I guess social networking will be the number one way to get out info. I wonder If it was world war 3 or 4 will people be twittering or facebooking humm.

Jan. 25 2011 01:15 PM
Neil from Austin, TX

The Tunisian uprising succeeded partly because the Tunisian regime did not use the extremely harsh methods of the Iranian regime to suppress the people. The regime in Iran got inspiration from the Russians and the Chinese on how to terrorize the people in the street. (In fact, Ahmadinejad himself visited Moscow on the days following the election.) There was a line that the Tunisian regime, and the Shah's regime in 1979, did not cross, because of their adherence to certain Western standards. The thugs in Iran used mass torture and even rape to deter people. Any uprising will be put down when Stalinist methods are used against the people.

Ironically, had Iran not been driven into the arms of Russia and China in recent years, things might have turned out differently. But an indirect consequence of the sanctions against Iran has been that Iran's relations with the West have weakened and been replaced by strong ties to Russia and China.

Talk about unexpected consequences.


Jan. 23 2011 10:33 AM
clopha deshotel from Bridgeport CT

This is relevant to any country wanting democracy, unless I am an idiot. Ancient Greece seems to always come into give and take about democracy. And there is a Fable attributed to a fellow named Aesop, it is "Belly and the Other Members." It is about self-government - perhaps Marc Lynch recognizes it as the body-state metaphor, and noticed it in Shakespeare's play "Coriolanus" and/or in "Macbeth." There is at least one book available on Amazon about this metaphor. Relevant to Tunisia - consider the enteric nervous system in the digestive system and its connection (or lack of such) to the brain. Good food for thought, I trust.

Jan. 22 2011 07:46 AM
clopha deshotel from Bridgeport CT

There is a helpful metaphor in one of Aesop's fables, "Belly and the Other Members." It is about self-government for a person, but it can (with some effort I suppose) be applied to understanding the governance of almost any country. Sure, it is cute and simple, but this body-state metaphor is far more helpful than the popular notion than conflict is as normal as sunrise and sunset.

Jan. 22 2011 05:48 AM

Iran and Tunisia are extremely different. If Iran had the same conditions as Tunisia does, then the people could of overthrown Ahmadinejad.

Tunisia has an Army.
Iran has an Army and a Revolutionary Guard.

Jan. 21 2011 07:11 PM

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