At this point, social networking sites are no new phenomena in the United States. Facebook gets more hits daily than even Google, and Twitter is becoming more and more popular by the day. With the ability to follow, like, and friend people from around the world, news outlets have learned to use the social media sites of people involved in the recent revolutions to get minute to minute updates about protests around the world. Because of these quick updates, in both Egypt and more recently Libya, dictators clinging to power have quickly tried to shut down the country’s internet access in order to slow down anti- government protest information.
In Egypt, Wael Ghonim, the marketing manager for Google in the Middle East and North Africa tweeted about different protests by the hour which eventually led to his arrest by the Egyptian government. This only furthered his following and helped spread the word faster about his anti- Mubarak movements. In the United States, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton participated in an online discussion with young Egyptians who were involved in the riots. By answering their questions in an online interview which were eventually posted on an Egyptian social networking site, Clinton assured the citizens that the United States supported their democratic ideals.
One of the many western journalists who have been following the chaos in the Middle East and Africa, National Public Radio’s Andy Carvin has been updating his twitter page constantly to keep people around the world up to date of current protests and government decisions.
With millions of people around the world participating and actively using several different social media sites, it allows information to be passed around at a greater rate than ever before. With the capabilities to follow sites from smart phones, laptops etc. it will be hard for any dictators over staying there welcome to keep ahead of the actions of their irritated citizens.