Mubarak asks Libya's Qaddafi and Saudi King Abdullah:

'And how many enemies do you have on Facebook?'

[Le Temps, Switzerland]

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O Globo, Brazil

Facebook and Twitter are Just a Means to a Greater End


"Social networks are not the protagonists of institutional forces. Society is more complex. The means of communcation and relationship-building (like networks) work as part of society, also acting as its channel. ... it makes us better as a species to debate our positions with the world. ... To think beyond this is to write scripts of science fiction."


By Risoletta Miranda

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Translated By Brandi Miller


February 2, 2011


Brazil - O Globo - Original Article (Portuguese)

An Egyptian anti-government protester shows his colors in Tahrir Square, Cairo, Feb. 4.


AL-JAZEERA: Live feed of the unfolding crisis in Egypt.RealVideo

As soon as Egypt's population confronted tanks in the street and were shouting against the curfew, thousands of Tweets (Twitter comments) containing the word Egypt traversed the world. On the two most famous social networks, Facebook and Twitter, they informed others about how to get around the Web blockade imposed by local authorities. And as they disseminated technical information about how to keep the lines of communications open, the online world launched protests against the attitude of the Egyptian government.


To limit information leaks and avoid globalized protests, blockading social networks is one of the first actions taken by crisis-besieged governments. Quantitatively, this hasn't worked too well: in the last 72 hours, Twitter messages, worldwide, reached 40 million people, with a total of 541,000 tweets, which generated a billion messages (source: tweetreach/@fsbprdigital).


But what about qualitatively? And what does that even mean? In each such case, the social networks become the epicenter of an existential debate: Do they make a difference? What is their effectiveness and role - are they protagonists? Changers of behavior and society?


The most radical - and those that profess the apocalypse of traditional media - say that social networking is this century's definitive means of communication, and as such, generate and produce collective mobilizations capable of toppling - and yes, sustaining - governments. Their position is backed by data like: half a billion Facebook users and their millions of "likes"; 329 million posts per day on blogs; and 1.6 billion Google searches done each day. But their central argument is a vision of the future: the Internet generation, which was born connected to the Web, will soon be commanding businesses and governments. Let's see what happens.




Al-Wahdawi, Yemen: In Egypt, the 'Mother of All Battles' is Still to Come

Al-Seyassah, Kuwait: U.S. Pressure on Rights and Democracy is at Root of the Problem

Tehran Times, Iran: Egyptians and All Arabs Must Beware of 'Global Ruling Class'

Le Quotidien d?ran, Algeria: Mubarak, Friends Scheme to Short-Circuit Revolt

Salzburger Nachrichten, Austria: America Must Act or Cede Egypt to the Islamists

Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Germany: America's' 'Shameful' Faustian Bargain Unravels

Guardian Unlimited, U.K.: Mubarak Regime 'Still Very Much in Power'

Hankyoreh, South Korea: Egypt: Will U.S. Pick the Right Side this Time?

Global Times, China: Egypt, Tunisia Raise Doubts About Western Democracy

Kayhan, Iran: Middle East Revolutions Herald America's Demise

Sydney Morning Herald: Revolution is in the Air, But U.S. Sticks to Same Old Script

The Telegraph, U.K.: America's Secret Backing for Egypt's Rebel Leaders

Debka File, Israel: Sources: Egypt Uprising Planned in Washington Under Bush


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At the other extreme are those who see social networking as a slingshot for celebrities and a virtual media arm of print gossip. They stigmatize the image of the young, who are connected, superfluous and egocentric. Merely a stage for the anonymous, where fake profiles prevail over sources of credibility. How, then, can such a place, where people reveal their daily trivia based on "weirdness" like hashtags and memes, be an atmosphere for social change? How can this be a way of expanding knowledge or interfering with the hanging of a woman in Iran? How can they pressure governments?


Then there are the optimists - including myself - who believe that the mesh of virtual connections is one of the most revolutionary ways of disseminating information ever available to man. It brings the same winds that "liberated" books from monasteries and illuminated humanity.




I believe that with the Internet, social networks raise the profile of local causes and issues to the global community. Plus: they quickly spill over into offline communications, causing them to reach even those who aren't connected. Despite this, I don't believe that the support of causes by social networks gives them credentials as players in the role of transformative protagonist.


It's a fact that social networks are, indeed, an important way of accessing and disseminating information. With networks there is no night, no silence, no curfew, no fees to pay, and censoring is practically impossible. With characteristics like these, they are able to create what is statistically understood as a long tail - for issues that a few years ago would have gone unnoticed or simply never reach the point of debate. They provide a powerful boost, with a resonance that can shed light on the shadows of dictatorship, for example.


But they are not the protagonists of institutional forces. Society is more complex. The means of communcation and relationship building (like networks) work as part of society, also acting as its channel. And as such, they must be exhaustively used. Social networks are also very dynamic, as more people are involved in the conversation. It makes us better as a species to debate our positions with the world. In this fashion, the network serves as a perfect amalgram. To think beyond this is to write scripts of science fiction. This is a vision of today alone, because the method of dissemination is so efficient that this article, in short, may be dated. Let us see.


*Risoletta Miranda is a colunist and executive director at FSB Digital Public Relations.



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[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US February 5, 12:49am]

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