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The Arab Spring revolution set the Middle East on fire. The Middle Eastern countries tried to forcibly overthrow their governments in favor of a “new system” with more equitable social order. In this research, I will explore the factors that lead to rise of protest in the Middle East. The hypothesis in my research is that social media was the main reason for the Arab Spring.

I looked at different economic and political factors. The main reason that was studied is the use of Facebook, as well as economic factors such as GDP growth, inflation, unemployment and political factor the regime type. After analyzing the results I find that autocracy and social media has effect on the protest but the use of Facebook has more effect on rise of protest.

Over the past two decades, one of the most dynamic developments related to digital media has been the rise of social network sites. Since the launch of the first social applications in the late 1990s, they attracted over a billion active users worldwide. Nowadays, social media is a part of our daily lives which led to a cultural shift in the way we communicate. This revolution changed the perception about the media and how governments communicate with their citizens. The uprising defined the new understanding of the power of communication. After it the Arab governments realized media’s ability to topple regimes and change leadership. It also proved that censorship is out of date. The state can’t maintain its monopoly over media with all the technological advancement in satellite television. However, the social media overcame the satellite television in popular mobilization. Mainly the failure of state-run media gave the digital channels of communication power.

It become a tool for collective mobilizations and protest movements in history. Narratives about revolution often preceded major events, and social media has spread the stories of protest across international borders. The social media carried messages about freedom and democracy across MENA region and helped to spread the motivation and the success of political uprising. Activists fighting for democracy built social networks and organized political action through social media mainly Facebook and Twitter.

During the Arab Spring, social media mobilized the supporters and provided new insights about social problems. Discovering the root causes of the problem is critical for the state. Policymaker in the post-revolution governments must understand why this occurred so as to prevent future radicalization. Policymakers interest in the Arab spring focuses on the new regime types that will rise. Will it lead to rise of democratic regime or bring Muslim parties? Will the rise of democratic regimes in authoritarian Arab states lead to more cooperation with the democratically formed governments and the use the social media as a tool for public diplomacy? Social media was used as a tool to over throw regimes, but will it be a tool in near future to help establish democracy in the region? Can social media build democratic government? Social media allowed foreign observers to closely monitor actions taking place in Middle East allowing more scrutiny and enhancing transparency, and accountability that will put pressure on the state. In addition, social media should be used by the new governments as a mean to promote elections and candidates. On the other hand it can be also used by grassroots to monitor violations. The most important outcome of the Arab Spring was ending the old media regime and movement towards a new transparent independent media system. The next step is providing those governments in transition the knowledge to establish independent media and training for the government on new communication methods with their citizens. The governments should build modern media which protects their citizens and promotes accountability and good government in order to avoid another uprising.

The social media played a central role in the protests across the Middle East in organizing the protests for democratic change through gathering demonstrators, manipulating police and security forces and providing instant, live, news feeds of information updates. Two distinct views exist about social media causing the revolution, on the other hand, the contradictory view that social media has no cause on revolution start. Those revolutions just as the other ones that happened throughout the history are peoples’ revolution with a unique characteristics: the modernization of demonstrations through social media as a result of the information age we live in. Thus social media has become the new weapon of democracy allowing new opportunities for political expression which are difficult to suppress.

Dina El Sayed is a graduate from School of Diplomacy-Seton Hall University and specializes in Foreign Policy Analysis and Conflict Negotiation.

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