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Trends in Social Media: Uprisings and Social Change

People are able to disseminate information to attract support for a cause like never before.

From the social uprisings in places such as Iran, Tunisia and Egypt, to the Occupy protests in the United States, social networks have been in the mix. While there is no clear answer to whether or not social media were the cause of these events, it cannot be denied that it played a critical part.

In many countries the government censors information sent through traditional media outlets such as radio, television, print media and the Internet. Many also block what websites their citizens have access to. Nevertheless, with anonymizers citizens are able to bypass these restrictions and this enables them to give real-time updates through social networks during uprisings, which in many cases would differ from the narrative and views being carried by traditional media sources.

Ramy Raoof, a blogger and digital activist with Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights used social media as an integral tool during the 2011 Egypt revolution where President Hosni Mubarak was ousted from power. Ramy used his blog to organize protests, mobilize support, and get his message out. He used Flickr to organize images of the situation that were used by not only protesters but also journalists and government agencies around the world.

In the USA where freedom of speech is protected by the Constitution, Occupy organizers used social media to freely spread the word and organize demonstrations. From the beginning, social media helped to shape the direction and focus of the Occupy group. They used it to create online forums for citizens (protestors and non protestors) to vote for agenda items and help determine their list of demands. They used social media to organize protests, and to keep the public abreast of happenings and progress through sites such as Tumblr, Twitter, Skype, Facebook and their website Occupytogether.org .

They also used social media to organize and give a voice to those people who were not able to go out and physically join the protest. Citizens post3e pictures with placards of their stories of economic hardship on social network sites such as Tumblr on a blog called wearethe99percent . Youtube was also used to show videos of support, protests and other related news.

Through social media Occupy spread to many other cities in the U.S. such as Boston, Los Angeles and Chicago. It also spread globally with protests called Occupy London and Occupy Toronto.


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