Today (Dec 1, 2011) a student wrote 'I doubt the Arab Spring would’ve succeeded without the Internet and the information age.'
There has been quite a controversy about the alleged impacts of Facebook (FB) and other social media on the Arab Spring.
Before FB, there was simply email and websites. This allowed a massive anti war global protest in 2003 with 11 million organized in a few weeks, to protest the US plans to invade Iraq.
Before email and websites, there was radio and television. In 1986, massive demonstrations )"people power") led to the peaceful overthrow of a US backed dictator in the Philippines. Popular uprisings that followed included those in Thailand, South Korea, Mongolia and Indonesia. Pre-FB resistance led to the overthrow of the S African regime of Apartheid. In Latin America, dictatorships transformed into democracies, thanks to people power type protests.
Going back further in time, before WWII, there was organized resistance to British imperialism throughout the Middle East. In Iraq there were four uprisings alone. Pan Arabism, socialism and other resistance movements (which we covered early on in the class) led to coup d'etats and regime changes in many ME countries.
Social media perhaps hastens the day, ie quickens the rate at which events develop, but that is true for everything today.
But in terms of getting people out into the streets, I don't think social media has that much of an impact,
One could say that organized and mass resistance to oppression has had a history stretching over millenia, PW