Libyan Revolutionary Fire Ignited and Fueled by Social Media

Social media is the new tool in rallying for revolutions and igniting fire within Middle Eastern countries.  After the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions used social media platforms as effective means to stir up dissent, Libya quickly caught on to the trending strategy.  Utilizing social media as an aid for protests, Libya uses the hashtag #Feb17 to sprout conversation and provide information across the world.

Muammar Gaddafi instructed Libya to refrain from using social media sites after Facebook and Twitter were being used to call for reform.  Gaddafi understands the threat of social media’s power and the influence it has in revolutions.  He has arrested activists using Facebook and Twitter as means to rustle up the community and encourage dissent of the regime.

Reporters across the globe have been left without facts and information because of Gaddafi’s censorship, making the Libyan revolution appear to be a hazy subject including a lot of “he said, she said”.  But activists in Libya have created Twitter accounts to correct the false information that is circulating, despite Gaddafi’s orders.  They’ve found social media as a way to provide their own news feeds and footage of the protests, and to stand against the government in support of the revolution.A report by the Associated Press stated that the Libyan protests were not directed toward President Muammar
Gaddafi.  The report quickly sprouted tweets in disagreement across the globe.  An angry Libyan protester named Libyan4Life tweeted @SMH @HuffingtonPost @AP Protests in #Benghazi were solely towards #Gaddafi despite direct evidence, continue to report misinformation #Feb17?.  Another Libyan under the Twitter name Cyrenaican responded to the misled media conglomerate, “They say the revolution will not be televised. Fine. Can we at least get it reported correctly? @AssociatedPress #Benghazi #Feb17 #Libya”.

Despite the restrictions of the protest on television, Libyans used social media to publish the first video footage of the revolution.  The video was posted on YouTube by a Libyan protestor and shows images of people, young and old, fighting verbally and physically.

Through Facebook, Lybian journalist Mahmud Shammam rallied over 200 people to join in overcoming the false information and video restrictions by creating a satellite channel named Libya TV.  After calling for volunteers on his Facebook page, a team quickly assembled to create the station.  Their goal: to provide news and commentary while countering Libyan state propaganda.

“We need a heavy dosage of dialogue,” says Shammam, “we want Libyans to think about the future: the rule of law, civil society, a new constitution.  We want to promote a culture of forgiving.”

After hundreds of years of dissent and protest, it’s incredible that social media became the powerful outlet that finally made it possible for Middle Eastern countries to be heard across the world.


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