Are Revolutions Still Been Tweeted: The Changing Roles of Social Media in Post-Arab Spring Era of 2019


There is a significant debate about the role that social media plays in the ability of challengers to mobilize for collective action. Given that this media power has been exhibited in so many cases, it is difficult to deny the crucial trigger factor in this regard in recent years. However, skeptics assert that such technological changes on the movements’ success have been exaggerated. This debate became compellingly intense under the circumstance of the dramatic events known as Arab Spring occurred in late 2010 in Tunisia and soon spread to other Middle Eastern countries. Evoked by crony capitalist policies of long-standing authoritarian regimes, grievance of socio-economic and political inequality of majority people finally caused incalculable insurgencies all over the Arab region. 

There is no doubt that this movement has changed the way we evaluate information technology as a tool to fuel expectations of a democratic turn of autarchy or semi-autarchy society. No matter whether there was achieved convergence till now, it was the first time when scholars of Journalism and Communication, and some of International Relations turned their attention to media use behaviors of people living in the Middle East on a large scale, which has long been in marginal status within western-framework oriented discourse rules, and revolutionized the way in which people think about SNSs just beyond the entertainment platforms.

After nearly ten years of the end of Arab Spring, subsequent changes and structural crises fueling revolutions a decade ago are still having desperate impacts on these suffering countries. Protests and violence happened in Lebanon, Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia from late 2018 as a kind of repercussion reflected that this tangle is far from over. In these fresh cases, ordinary people show superior talents and methods to use social media to format identity, express demands, and organize public mobilization compared with immature attempts in 2011. On this occasion, any minor and individual incident can touch off a new conflict in the decentralized world. Thus, we need to rethink challenges and opportunities brought by great media transformation today, and pave the way how it works with peculiar political phenomenon. 

So, this article intends to move this discussion forward by taking Iraq, Lebanon, Iran and Egypt as case studies, to explore if there is any changing function or dynamic mechanism that social media plays with new Arab uprising, in the context of the status quo of social integration of stagnant political regime, volatile civil society and rapid technological progress in the Post-Arab Spring Era.