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The unstoppable advancements of the Internet and social networks entered a society as an explosion in the early 2000’s. In Arab countries, these new developments were the trigger event that forced people to take the streets to protest the many factors hindering the lives everyday of the people such as; significant social differences, political corruption and abuse of power, lack of freedom, continuous repression and restriction of basic civil rights, and important government employee privileges. The article, “The Role of the Internet and Social networks in the Arab Uprisings – An Alternative to Official Press Censorship,” by Xose Soengas, and the article, “Role of the New Media in Arab Springs,” by Habibul Khondker both describe that although the media is only one of the factors in the social revolution among others, such as social and political factors in the region, it nevertheless played a critical role especially, without an open media and a civil society, in shaping the social and political factors of certain societies. Although the rise of new technologies played a big role in the political and social changes of the Arab countries, it cannot be attributed to one single event. According to the articles, the changes are a result of many factors such as; an inevitable social evolution sped up thanks to regular contact with the outside world, a generalized discontent due to their precarious economic conditions and obtains a larger share of freedoms. With or without the new Media, these countries were already ready for revolutionary movements due to an assortment of politico-economic conditions; the rise of new media just acted as a catalyst in the process. These articles explain the significance of globalization of the advancements of the Media, its negative effects and risks, and the role it has played in protests and social revolution in the Arab Spring in the Middle East and North Africa region.
The advancements and developments of new technologies are very popular and have made a grand entrance in many societies. According to Khondker in his article, “In the MENA region there seems to be no holding back the march of cyber activism, the act of using the internet to advance a political cause that is difficult to advance offline, in this region.” This shows that the use of the Internet has help spread information about many causes a lot faster and more efficient than past than the use of past conventional media. Soengas backs up Khondker statement, pertaining to the spreading of information on this new media, in his article by stating, “ The support base of these new developments grew quickly from the very beginning because, there was an important mimetic effect, emerging from the first international declarations of solidarity, which transformed into a massive phenomenon as a consequence of the summoning power of the Internet and its word-of-mouth effect.” These two statements display the effectiveness of the Internet when trying to spread information to many people.
The new technologies appear to be the greatest thing to be discovered, but the reality is that they have many disadvantages and lack of effectiveness in certain situations associated with them. According to Soengas in his article, one of the disadvantagesduring the time of protests with the internet is that the journalists were not granted access to all the protests, in many cases the only images and proof were found on the internet and social networks, were obtained and distributed by anonymous citizens which lacked the appropriate knowledge of professional journalism standards. This means they data was not able to be verified, and the information did not offer objective and verified information, a process which is called unfiltered journalism. This means that the information shared on the Internet could be untrue, chaotic, disorganized, and it could even be inappropriate. Khondker also states some disadvantages of the new social media in his article. He states that, “The new media is a tool, a means rather than the end of social movement. Hence, the role of new media is uncertain on the movements on the street” This means that society will continue to change and have more uprisings, but the new media has no sense of the transformations and will not always change with society. One risk of the new media stated by both Soengas and Khondker is that the technology could be used to create propaganda. This new media is not the answer to everything; it contains many flaws along with the other types of past used media.
The Internet and Social Networks have played a huge role in the Arab uprisings. The isolation of the Arab countries had been subjected to end when the globalization and technology made official geographic boundaries obsolete which is stated Soengas article. He also states that the virtual relations became normalized, which made it possible to contact any corner of the globe without traveling. This process gave the Arab society, especially its youth, the means to avoid censorship and regime control within its reach for the first time in history along with the ability to organize and share opinions with foreign communities. As stated in both articles, “The rise of internet and social networks give societies the necessary tools to condemn their government on a world stage, and are able to receive all kinds of international support, from advice on topics of strategic interests and general logistics to guarantee the success of their protests to solidarity movements that lend visibility and prominence to the cause.” This means individuals now have more power in shaping society, politics, and attempting to overthrow the government. This new media has made a huge impact on many countries during the times of chaos and revolution. These revolutions that in society will be successful or not depending on many factors, in which the Internet and social networks may play a important, and supportive role.
The articles, “The Role of the Internet and Social Networks in the Arab Uprisings – An Alternative to Official Press Censorship,” by Xose Soengas, and “Role of the New Media in the Arab Spring” by Habibul Khondker have a very similar purpose in their writings. Both articles examine the role and power of the new media, the Internet and social networks, in the Arab Spring in the Middle East and North Africa region. Although there purpose is similar, the content is not completely the same between each article. Soengas explains the results and findings of a study with a series of online interviews with 30 young people from the Arab countries. He explains the history of the media in Arab countries, the rise of the new media, its positive impact on individuals lives, it’s disadvantages, how it contributes to a social revolution or uprising, and the results of the study. Soengas article was more detailed and went farther in depth than Khondker did in his article. Khondker uses many personal quotes and stories about the impact of the new media among individuals in the Arab countries. He explains personal positive encounters with the new media among individuals, some disadvantages of the new media, and how the development of new media impacted and influenced many social revulsions and upraises among society.
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