For this project, I specifically investigated the use of social media in protest activity for both the countries Egypt and Chile. In the past few years, both of these countries have been at the global forefront for political protest activity. Regardless of what the protests may have been about, the similarity that these countries share is that they both took advantage of social media usage to come together and organize, even when they might not have met the person on the other side of the screen.
One of the root similarities that brings these two countries together is that the majority of the social media activity was initiated by students. It is common knowledge that younger generations seem to be more technologically inclined than their elders, but this is not something that their oppressive governments could have seen coming. These activists have “infected both the political and media systems by mobilizing resources, information and people across the public sphere, combining the digital and physical world.” (Barahona 2012, p. 7). Both of these countries used social media as an outlet for frustration. For Chile, it was regarding the lack of structure in their nation’s education system, but for Egypt, “it was simply a place for venting the outrage resulting from years of repression, economic instability and individual frustration.” (Vargas 2012, para. 9).
One main difference between these two countries lies in the regulation of the internet. In Chile, like most of South America, countries are rapidly developing and are integrating mobile technology into the lives of most middle to lower-class citizens. With readily able technology and a stable internet connection, users are able to communicate and collaborate from anywhere, at any time. This makes protest organizations much easier, and provides a way for it to be done without being in direct eyesight of the government. “Those who belong to social movements and political groups can thus build relationships with one another, receive mobilizing information that they may not obtain elsewhere, thus expanding their opportunities to engage in political activities” (Valenzuela 2012, p. 4)
However, in Egypt, the government has a much firmer grasp on the internet. While Egyptians were using their social media for the same purpose as Chileans, the Egyptian government managed to shutdown four of the main Internet Service Providers (ISPs) on January 27th, 2011. “Commentators immediately assumed this was a response to the organizational capabilities of social media websites that Cairo could not completely block from public access.” (Papic & Noonan 2011, p. 1)
Both of these nations, in two separate predicaments, were able to use social media to their advantage by allowing themselves to communicate, collaborate, organize, and spread the word. In the 21st century, ideas can often be the most powerful force on the playing field.
Barahona, M., Garcia, C., Gloor, P., & Parraguez, P. (2012). TRACKING THE 2011 STUDENT-LED MOVEMENT IN CHILE THROUGH SOCIAL MEDIA USE. Retrieved September 7, 2016, from http://orbit.dtu.dk/fedora/objects/orbit:124968/datastreams/file_6a98d547-6a15-4830-a744-da8ddd0aa9d5/content
Papic, M., & Noonan, S. (2011, February 3). Social Media as a Tool for Protest. Retrieved September 7, 2016, from http://dalpemilette.com/files/pdf/infosabius/2011_03/InfoSabius_2011_03_07_MediasSociaux.pdf
Vargas, J. A. (2012, February 17). Spring Awakening. Retrieved September 08, 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/19/books/review/how-an-egyptian-revolution-began-on-facebook.html?_r=0