The Internet belongs to everyone. Let’s keep it that way.

Protect Net Neutrality
Loading presentation...

Present Remotely

Send the link below via email or IM


Present to your audience

Start remote presentation

  • Invited audience members will follow you as you navigate and present
  • People invited to a presentation do not need a Prezi account
  • This link expires 10 minutes after you close the presentation
  • A maximum of 30 users can follow your presentation
  • Learn more about this feature in our knowledge base article

Do you really want to delete this prezi?

Neither you, nor the coeditors you shared it with will be able to recover it again.


"Twitter revolutions" and cyber crackdowns

by Alex Comninos Centre for Civil Society Seminar, 22 February 2011

Alex Comninos

on 22 February 2012

Comments (0)

Please log in to add your comment.

Report abuse

Transcript of "Twitter revolutions" and cyber crackdowns

"Twitter" revolutions and cyber-crackdowns The role of user-generated internet content and social networking in the Arab spring and beyond Presentation by Alex Comninos, Centre for Civil Society Seminar, University of KwaZulu-Natal, 22 February 2012 | user-generated content (UGC)
social networking
Social media internet content (text, images, audio, video) that is created and uploaded by users, usually for no explicit financial gain, but rather for enjoyment or passion.
created usually by amateurs, not professionals (though lines are blurry)
video clips e.g. Youtube
audio clips (podcasts)
comments on web pages, blogs or forums
“status updates” on social networks like
picture sharing
UGC can make use of old information and communications technologies (ICTs), e.g. Flyers, Pamphlets, self-published books SMS, voice telephony, community and pirate radio A social networking service is an online service, platform, or site that focuses on building and reflecting of social networks or social relations among people, who, for example, share interests and/or activities. A social network service consists of a representation of each user (often a profile), his/her social links, and a variety of additional services. Most social network services are web-based and provide means for users to interact over the Internet, such as e-mail and instant messaging ... Social networking sites allow users to share ideas, activities, events, and interests within their individual networks." - Wikipedia
Facebook, Google+/Google circles, Orkut, Myspace, LinkedIn, Sina Weibo, Outoilet, MXiT, Ning Networks, Diaspora networks
platforms for UGC creation and sharing and dissemination of UGC
Various levels of access to information from public to private (e.g.
not as new as we think they are: e.g. MUD (multi-user domains/dungeons), Bulletin Board Systems (BBS), Forums, mailing lists "Twitter" revolutions ?
"Facebook revolutions ? Goliath and the mouse?

2005 - 4/15 "enemies of the internet" in MENA - Libya, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Tunisia (Reporters without Borders)

2010 - Saudi Arabia and Syria = "Enemies of the internet", (Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, UAE listed as "under surveilance". bloggers in prison in KSA, Syria and Egypt" (Reporters without borders)

Bahrain, UAE, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Yemen, Sudan and Tunisia used Western technologies to block internet content, “such as websites that provide sceptical views of Islam, secular and atheist discourse, sex, GLBT , dating services, and proxy and anonymity tools.” (OpenNet Initiative)


Internet freedom pre- and during "Arab spring" filtering
internet blackouts
surveilance - sit back and watch State responses Source: Dubai School of Governance, Arab Social Media Report 2, using data from Google Transparency (

Source: Reuters Source: Reuters Access and usage in MENA "Social media includes web-based and mobile technologies used to turn communication into interactive dialogue. Andreas Kaplan and Michael Haenlein define social media as "a group of Internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content." - Wikipedia
Media that can be shared amongst users online
Media that encourages/creates conversation Sources: Dubai School of Governance, Arab Social Media Report 2,

International Telecommunications Union -

Social bakers -

Problems with the use of social media in the Arab spring Reliability/veracity of UGC
UGC, social networking and surveilance
geolocation of content and triangulation of mobile phones
propoganda, misinformation and "gaming" of platforms
Sockpuppetry and astro-turfing
Issues around Anonymity
Who are legitimate stakeholders?
Who is "the crowd?"
Open source intelligence is for everyone
Access and usage obstacles and bottlenecks
Anonymity and monikers
Safe and informed use of social networking and UGC platforms
Backup and mirroring of content
Alternatives to Facebook
Complement UGC with traditional media as well as with cellphones, voice and word on the street Further reading:
Alex Comninos, “e-revolutions and cyber crackdowns: User-generated content and social networking in protests in MENA and beyond”, Global Information Society Watch 2011: Internet rights and democratisation, Association for Progressive Communications (APC) and the Humanist Institute for Cooperation with Developing Countries (HIVOS), November 2011.

Comninos, A. “Anonymous: Information Conflict and New Challenges to Peace Practitioners”, Peace Magazine 27(4), October 2011.
Full transcript