#SOPA and the #ArabSpring

January 18, 2012 § Leave a comment

Massive online protest and strike today, major websites such as Wikipedia and WordPress”going dark” or “blacking out”, against  SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect Intellectual Property Act). Action also known as #SOPASTRIKE on Twitter. This proposed legislation, in the U.S. Congress,  is seen by many critics as an open door for censorship.

Wikipedia blacking out in protest

Social media (Facebook, Twitter, Youtube) seems to be playing a significant part in the Arab revolutions so far. The Arab blogosphere and its followers are also protesting against SOPA and many Twitter users have been quite “vocal” about it:

According to the latest message, “With #SOPA there would have been no #ArabSpring”, we could assume that the “Arab spring” would not have been possible without the  Internet (as we know it) and social media, which make it possible to share information freely and extensively. This takes us slightly away from the “SOPA issue” itself, to the relationship between Internet/social media and the “Arab Spring”. As shown in this example, but also in most other tweets, they seem to go hand in hand in most people’s minds, including in the “Arab world” itself. Was the fall of Tunisia’s government “the first Twitter revolution”? “Not so fast”, warns us Ethan Zuckerman in Foreign Policy.

Ziya Meral does a pretty good job, here, at actually demystifying the “central role” of social media in the “Arab spring”, saying that “the vast majority  have no idea of who Mark Zuckerberg is” and “the most widely spread tweets were in English, thus limiting the access to a small number of Egyptians.”

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