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 isÂ 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 andÂ 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.
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