The Tunisian uprising has reverberated across the Arab world. The use of new communication technologies – social networks, blogs, text messaging, videos uploaded by cellphone – continue to play an important role in events there, with their influence felt in the work of broadcasters like Al-Jazeera; they have also became part of the repertoire of protesters in Egypt, Yemen, Algeria, and elsewhere. The new tools have created opportunities to overcome censorship, spread information and expand spaces of activism. At the same time, Arab systems and leaders fearful of a “domino effect” are seeking ways to curb these effects, avert their potential dangers, and absorb the anger within their societies: from controls and clampdowns on media (as in Syria) to government reshuffles and economic measures (as in Egypt and Jordan). Thus, if the new technologies highlight a deep change in the Arab media scene, they have also become part of the larger political contest for democracy and freedom in the region.
The views represented in this paper are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Arab Reform Initiative, its staff, or its board.