Abstract - The Information Society 30(1)


What Tahrir Square has done for Social Media:  A 2012 Snapshot in the Struggle for Political Power in Egypt

Ramesh Srinivasan

While the debate rages on the role of social media technologies in the initial days of the Egyptian revolution of 2011, a more relevant research question today is the role of social media within an increasingly contested and turbulent political sphere. This paper identifies three key modes by which social media is being exploited to impact political power, and uncovers the salience of each of these through two years of multi-sited ethnographies and interviews. First, I argue that political actors across the political spectrum, from liberals to Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan), are using technologies to build wider-ranging, heterogeneous and diverse networks of supporters, expanding their base from a more historically homogeneous core support group. Second, I argue that actors are working to build bridges between older and newer media platforms, recognizing that each platform is increasingly being shaped by the other. Finally, I describe some of the ways that technology is being used by activists subvert their competition, promoting campaigns of misinformation and hacking at the expense of others.


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