Social Networks, Social Movements.
could have been saved because of tweets? How many followers would Dr.King have?
Sadly, the world will never know, but movements like Arab Spring can give us
an idea of how things might have went.
For those who don’t know, Arab Spring is a movement that is taking place in
the Arab world in the Middle East and parts of North Africa. The movement
consists of a massive wave of protests, demonstrations, and wars. The
conflicts are a result of the need for massive change in countries involved in
the movement. Corruption in dictatorship, poverty levels, human rights
violations, and unemployment rates are all things that people in the Arab
Spring are fighting for.
What makes Arab Spring unique is the influence social media has had on the
movement. Social Networking sites like twitter allow users to connect with
other users from anywhere in the world, and that’s the beauty of social
networks. For the Arab Spring movement, this was a great way to let the rest
of the world know about the events happening during the movement. Because of
this, many of twitter’s most influential users became aware of the movement.
One of those influential users is Andy Carvin, National Public Radio’s senior
product manager for online communities. Carvin first picked up on the
movement when he noticed a hashtag reading “Sidi Bouzid” in several of his
friends tweets from Tunisian. The hash tag stood for a small town in Tunisian
where a man had set himself on fire to protest against the government. Ten
days later Carvin noticed another tweet from one of his Tunisian followers
that read, “ Ok Arab world, you seen how we do it in Tunisia, tag your it.”
This tweet made Carvin curious to see if a response from other Arab countries
would occur. His curiosity was soon met by reality when he saw the hash tag
“Jan 25”, which marked the day that Egyptians started to protest. Every piece
of information that Carvin could get about the movement from the people he
followed that were involved, he would retweet to his followers. Carvin has a
follower population of over 70,000 people.
Learning about the Arab Spring movement changed my perspective on the power of
social networks. Also, this story made me question what other movements around the
world will start as a result of social networks. Social Networks make it easy for
users to pick up on trends, twitter uses hash tags to identify trends. Movements
like Arab Spring challenges people to study trends on social networks to predict
similar movements ahead of time.