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Comunicar Journal 41: Black holes of Communication (Vol. 21 - 2013)

The role of the Internet and social networks in the arab uprisings an alternative to official press censorship


This research analyzes the power of the Internet and social networks in the Arab uprisings. We are interested in learning about the contribution of communication technology in low advanced societies in conflict situations and the value of the network as a link between young people who supported the changes from abroad and those who were directly involved in protests. On the importance of technology as a virtual communication tool we have conducted a series of online interviews with 30 young people from Tunisia, Egypt and Libya living in Barcelona, Madrid and Santiago de Compostela during the development of the conflicts and who were involved in the Arab Spring though the network. The research findings in this study prove that virtual support for uprisings were not based on coordinated actions, and that it was simply a confluence of similar acts coinciding in time and on the same platforms. The Internet and social networks served as elements for supporting the process and as a counterbalance to official censorship and to governmentsupportive media, and were useful for overcoming the isolation of Arab society, in order to make the conflicts visible and to attract relevant support from abroad. But it also showed that the network had constraints in the face of the consolidated propaganda infrastructure which existed in each country.