Social media's role in North Africa's unrest
Protesters in Tunisia rely on social media to help plan demonstrations, experts say.
January 27th, 2011
04:19 PM ET

Social media's role in North Africa's unrest

There has been a common thread in the recent political upheaval in Tunisia and Egypt: Social media has played a role in both influencing the protests and reporting on them.

"Social media is key to the revolution taking place in North Africa, and this may actually be the first time a government leader has lost power because of social media," said Darrell West, the vice president for governance studies at the Brookings Institution, referring to the ousting of former Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

However, social media isn't strictly a tool for those with a gripe with their government. Governments themselves have shown a willingness to use websites like Twitter for their own means in the wake of unrest, according to James Carafano, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation.

"In the Iranian election protests of 2009, government people would put their own information on Twitter, sometimes disinformation to try and confuse people, saying this person is a government informant and things like that," Carafano said.

Government controls on social media have not been foolproof. In Egypt, CNN's Ben Wedeman said, young people are very internet savvy and have found ways to get around government blocks.

Social media at the front line in Egypt

Click the audio player to hear the full story:

You can also listen to the CNN Radio Reports podcast on itunes or subscribe to the podcast here.

Post by:
Filed under: Egypt • Technology • Tunisia • Twitter
soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Egyptian & Prouud

    Urgent: The internet is down in Egypt now.

    January 27, 2011 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cesar

      Does this mean that you support this creep Mubarak? I sincerely hope not!!!

      January 27, 2011 at 7:59 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Majorityofone

    I don't believe that the social media played as big of a roll as some people claim. The same thing happened in France in 1789 when there was no such thing.

    January 27, 2011 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse |
  3. The two witnesses

    The two witnesses from revelation chapter 11 are here. Meet the last days witness today please call 800 613 9494 or log onto http://www.Yahweh.com or log onto http://www.Facebook.com/wefoundthem

    January 27, 2011 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Cesar

    Who is Mubarak? What Cesar are you???

    January 27, 2011 at 8:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cesar

      Are trying to make me look like a complete fool? Of course,anybody with a high school education knows who Hosni Mubarak is!!!

      January 27, 2011 at 10:04 pm | Report abuse |
  5. banasy

    Uh...social unrest is a completly different thing than social media. Thought you might understand that the Guillotine is a whole different animal than Twitter and Facebook. You are, after all, the Majorityofone.

    January 27, 2011 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
  6. raven

    hey witness guy : puh-leees e already !

    January 27, 2011 at 11:23 pm | Report abuse |
  7. banasy

    @raven:

    He's just playing Spamalot, and eventually CNN catches up. Similar to the celeb411 spammies that show up a lot. They ARE annoying as all h3ll, though, aren't they?

    January 28, 2011 at 12:11 am | Report abuse |
  8. Cesar

    @Cesar 10:04, you are a fool, fool.

    January 28, 2011 at 12:52 am | Report abuse |
  9. tomcat

    Banasay..... Sorry i must disagree withyour statement about the majorityofone. I believe you shoul have stated majorityofnone..Thank You....... Hey Cesar, you were a litle hard on the Cesar last night.

    January 28, 2011 at 6:46 am | Report abuse |
  10. tomcat

    Sorry....should* have stated.....Where is my coffee?

    January 28, 2011 at 6:47 am | Report abuse |