Date of Award

2013

Document Type

Thesis

Department

Political Science

First Advisor

Dr. Kevin Brennan

Second Advisor

Dr. Kevin C. Motl

Third Advisor

Dr. Barbara Pemberton

Abstract

In the Spring of 2011, a tremor swept through North Africa and the Middle East. What began in Tunisia as one man's self-immolation in protest of the government sparked demonstrations throughout the region. Shouting and demonstrating soon escalated into full out revolution. While countries involved have had varying experiences and levels of success, one thing is clear: social media was a powerful tool in this historic moment.

Facebook currently has one billion users -- or one in seven people. Twitter has 400 million users, Instagram is home to 100 million users, and YouTube has one billion unique visitors per month. Twenty-five percent of views are via mobile devices. A staggering 70 percent of YouTube traffic is from outside the United States. In 2011, the year that marked the beginning of the Arab Spring, YouTube "traffic from mobile devices tripled" and the site had one trillion views -- or 140 views per every human on earth.

In considering these statistics, this study tracks the use and importance of the Social Media and information and communication technology (ICT) in aiding revolutions. Whether citizen journalism in Tunisia, Facebook pages in Egypt and Yemen, or Social Media attention toward Libya -- Arab Spring countries have seen a drastic impact in the speed, success, and spreading throughout the region of revolutions. After analyzing Social Media's presence in the Arab Spring, it is hard to imagine the uprisings without this tool.

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