Everyone seems to be looking to blame Twitter, Facebook or BlackBerry for the recent London riots, but these tools are just aspects of our increasingly real-time, mobile and connected digital lives — and that can be an incredibly powerful force for both good and bad.
One of Facebook’s strengths is that you always know who you are connecting with, because the social network requires real names — but that same policy allows governments in countries like Egypt to track down dissidents. Facebook says it has no plans to change its policy.
Author Malcolm Gladwell, who wrote a critical piece in the New Yorker about the role of social media in activism, has weighed in with his thoughts on the current situation in Egypt. But he continues to miss the real point about the use of these tools.
As it was during the recent uprisings in Tunisia, the role of social media in Egypt has been the subject of some debate. In the end, it’s not about whether to give credit to Twitter or Facebook: it’s about the power of real-time networked communication.
Even as protesters were still cheering the downfall of the government in Tunisia on Friday, the debate had already begun over what role social media had played in the event. Was it the first real Twitter revolution? The correct answer is probably yes and no.