The Role of Social Media in Mobilizing Political Protest
Evidence from the Tunisian Revolution
This paper examines the use of social media to mobilize political protest, particularly in the case of Tunisia between December 2010 and January 2011. It bases its conclusions on interviews conducted with Tunisian bloggers and a web survey distributed among Tunisian Facebook users. The conclusions themselves are as follows. First, social media permitted a highly networked “digital elite” to circumvent a national media blackout and broker information for outside mainstream media. Second, it helped to overcome the “free rider” problem frequently associated with collective action, in this case by reporting the magnitude of protest events. Finally, it facilitated the formation of a national consensus that supported protest-related initiatives.
© 2012 German Development Institute (DIE)