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The Influence of Social Networking O Political Change in Middle East

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THE INFLUENCE OF SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES ON POLITICAL CHANGES IN THE MIDDLE EAST

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The influence of social media has been felt over many spheres in life. Over the past half a decade, the Middle East countries have been using the social media as a platform in airing their grievances on their governments’ nepotism, dictatorship, and economic stagnation among other political issues that have affected their countries since time immemorial. This paper discusses the influence that the social networks such as facebook, twitter, and YouTube have had influence on the political changes in the Middle East. The paper uses three distinct sources by Samantha M. Shapiro, Alexis Madrigal, and Philip N. Howard and Muzammil M. Hussain. The research conducted by these authors and analysis shows that these social networks have improved civic organization and information sharing but still has a long way to go in realization of real change in the politics in the Middle East.
Learning the influence of social networks on the political changes in Middle East is important in getting to understand the future of the politics in the region. As other countries are enjoying the fruits of democracy, the people in these countries are deprived off the basic needs of a healthy nation such as freedom of speech. With the many positive aspects that have come with social networks, it is optimistic that the rise of these social networks will have a positive influence on promoting political changes in the region. However, to what extent will the social networks bring the people in the Middle East closer to their dream of political freedom?
The articles referenced have provided insightful information on the influence that the social networks have had on politics in Middle East. The article by Samantha M. Shapiro in New York Times delves the use of facebook as a tool by the young Egyptians on protesting against the support of the Israelites by Hosni Mubarak. The article dates back in January 25, 2009 and has stated that the use of facebook enhanced communication, creation of awareness, and rising of issues affecting the Egyptians on a greater scale than ever before. Samantha noted that thousands of young Egyptians set up facebook groups, where the members would contribute on their views about the state of their country and the issues affecting them. The article notes that the April 6 Youth Movement was one of the groups with dynamic debates, with over 70, 000 educated and young Egyptians. With such a big number of members, some of them had never been in politics but the group gave them a platform where they could air and discuss issues affecting their country.
The article by Philip N. Howard and Muzammil M. Hussain also discusses the role that the digital media has played in the upheavals in Tunisia and Egypt. The article discusses how the digital media has influenced people to call for change in the way their governments were treating them. According to the article, the digital media coincided with Mohammed Bouazizi`s case who set himself ablaze after being harassed by the government officials over an inspector`s fine. Bouazizi`s case sparked up emotions from the Middle East, leading to demonstrations demanding for political freedom. By 2009, many Egyptians had mobile phones that could access internet. The access of the internet by many Egyptians fuelled the online publicity of the grievances of most Egyptians on how the government had been mistreated them. The rising demonstrations stemming from the social networking sites had a great influence on influencing people on understanding their rights as Egyptian citizens. The loss that the public demonstrations had brought pushed Hosni Mubarak to resign from power, a step that marked the positive impact of the digital media. The article has noted that the digital media had started a gush of civil disobedience across Egypt and a unique means through which the Egyptians would organize themselves, ready to demonstrate for their political freedom.
The other article by Alexis Madrigal has presented an action plan by Egyptian activists, which was circulated prior to a major protest that would be in Cairo. The action plan showed the public on the ways they would prepare for the demonstration, illustrating how they would gain numbers from their neighborhood and handle the police during the demonstration. The action plan was not however not to be circulated over the social networks but through mails and print and everyone would ensure that it would not get to the hands of the authorities. The action plan thereby provided people with an insight on the preparations on demonstrating on how they would organize themselves, making it an effective strategy in making the government aware of their need for political freedom. From the analysis of the three articles, it is imperative to understand that all authors have praised the level to which the social networks and the general digital media assisted the people in communication over political freedom in their country.
The three articles have indicated that social networks are effective platforms on which political change has been insinuated in Middle East countries. Through these social networking sites, it was possible for the public to access information about different issues on political freedom. Due to the privacy in these sites, it was even possible for the people who had no interest in politics get an insight of what they were lacking as loyal citizens of their countries. Additionally, the social sites opened up links with other citizens who were living in western countries and were in support of political changes in the Middle East. The evidence of support from people from outside was when the Egypt shut its internet after knowing the impact that it had on influencing the people on how their governance was affecting its citizens. The facebook groups supporting political changes were being operated from London and the Egyptians kept on demonstrating and pushing for the resignation of Hosni Mubarak until he gave up in May. Such influence of the social media supports the idea that social media networks can actually change the political situation in Middle East.
There are several patches on the social media networks` influence on the political situation in the Middle East. The social media networks have been designed in a way that the users can be anonymous to each other but still contribute or discuss about certain issues affecting them. The anonymity in these social media sites creates a platform where anyone can pretend to be who they are not. In any group, thousands of users can make decisions on how they would march towards the governments` buildings in solidarity to express their grievances but it would be a sad reality that only a few hundred would turn up for the demonstration. As experienced, the social media networks have created users who are very brave online but conservatives in real life, making these networks ineffective way through which a constant political change can be attained in the Middle East.
Governments usually have a larger share in controlling the internet for its citizens. If the government is in control of what the internet users can access, then it means that the citizens cannot exercise their full rights of using the internet as a tool to oppose the same government. When the Egyptian government learnt how the Egyptians were using the internet to oppose Hosni, the government decided to paralyze internet operations in the country for a while. Analysis of the three articles in this article reveals that the social media networks usage was still at its infancy and governments had not predicted the extent to which they would have on informing the citizens of their political freedom. Even though they had an influence at the time, governments have now put measures that monitor the activities of its citizens, watering down the hopes of positive and long lasting political change through the social media networks.
In summary, the social media networks had been effective in brining a political change in the Middle East at the beginning. This is because it opened up avenues that eased access to information and on the need of political change. As noted, the users were able to organize demonstrations and online discussions on bringing a change in their countries. Even as the social media networks made milestones at the time, there are many stones that have been left unturned, which require diplomacy, persistence, and increased awareness on the need for political freedom in the Middle East.

Bibliography Alexis Madrigal, Egyptian Activists' Action Plan:Translated, ATLANTIC (2011), http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/01/egyptian-activists-action-plan-translated/70388/.
Howard, Philip N., and Muzammil M. Hussain. "The role of digital media." Journal of Democracy 22, no. 3 (2011): 35-48. Shapiro, Samantha M. "Revolution, facebook-style." Revolution 6 (2009): 40.

--------------------------------------------
[ 2 ]. Shapiro, Samantha M. "Revolution, facebook-style." Revolution 6 (2009): 40.
[ 3 ]. Howard, Philip N., and Muzammil M. Hussain. "The role of digital media." Journal of Democracy 22, no. 3 (2011): 35-48.
[ 4 ]. Alexis Madrigal, Egyptian Activists' Action Plan: Translated, ATLANTIC (2011), http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/01/egyptian-activists-action-plan-translated/70388/.
[ 5 ]. Howard, Philip N., and Muzammil M. Hussain. "The role of digital media." Journal of Democracy 22, no. 3 (2011): 35-48.
[ 6 ]. Alexis Madrigal, Egyptian Activists' Action Plan:Translated, ATLANTIC (2011), http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/01/egyptian-activists-action-plan-translated/70388/.

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