Monday, 14 February 2011

What now for tweeter, how ready is the social media tool to support the spreading Arab Revolt

We have been watching the fast moving events in the Arab world to try and see how the social networking tool of twitter on mobile phones and smart phones can be used to organize protester.

What we are finding is that there are great disparages between Twitter uptake and use in different nations of the Middle East facing political protest.

For example we see almost no evidence of on the ground tweeting in Algiers, Algeria, with the highest score of 4 out of 100 using our tweeter meter tool
See Algiers, Algeria Real Time Tweet Levels

The story in Aden Yemen is a bit different. In most of Aden we are seeing no tweeting, but from the airport to the coast we have seen fairly high tweeting in what we suspect is an area organizing itself to protest.

For example in Al-Midan St, Aden, Yemen our model gave a real time geo-positioned tweeting score of 41 out of 100, which is very high for a smaller city in the developing world.
Sell Aden Tweeting levels here


Manāma, Bahrain is also showing much higher levels of tweeting than usual with a score of 60 out of 100 when we last checked. Again we assume that protesters are using tweeting to organize themselves and communicate, and as showen to defiance which is becoming familiar a large number of them are posting their locations. We have also seen a significant rise in the score for Bahrain through the day, rising from a score of 30 out of a hundred to 60. Since our scale is logarithmic this is more than a 100% increase and constitutes a sudden and unusual spike in tweeting around the protests.
See Manāma, Bahrain here

Tehran protests in Azadi Square seem not to be geo-tweeting at all with scores of 0 out of 100. We suspect that given the recent memories of crack downs on protester in Iran in recent years Iranian tweeters and bloggers will go to greater lengths to hide there location. We also suspect the anti-western policy of the government has limited the penetration of social network technology.
See Tehran Azadi Square Tweeting levels here


Conclusions:

  1. There is a disparate social network landscapes that the growing Arab revolt faces. In the Gulf states geo-located tweeting has be adopted and any future protests in Bahrain, Qatar, Lebanon and even Yemen will have Twitter available as a tool, but more isolated nations like Algeria, Lybia, and Iran are likely to have more limited use of Web 3.0 tools to support political protests.
  2. It has been an article of faith that giving ones geo-location in tweeting would be a violation of privacy which would only serve to increase the power of the state. What we may be seeing in the Arab world is a very different kind of future. It seems that many Arabs are openly geo-tagging their tweets as a sign of defiance to their governments. Also a young large motivated community of educated Arabs is more capable of taking advantage of the organizational advantages of geo-tagging than the older established power structures they oppose. At least in the face of the aging dictatorships which have ruled the Arab world since the end of colonialism technology is on the side of the protesters.
  3. There is a possibility that by this time next year we may actually have an entirely new kind of political organization and radicalism which can maturely use social networks and geo-tagging to create agile protests the established states of all but the most advanced nations will never be able to deal with.
  4. Twitter's minimal technology requirements and ease of use makes it an excellent communication tool for protesters in the developing world.

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