Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Continued high tweeting in this part of Bahrain, but why?



Ever since the destruction of the Pearl Roundabout we have seen the center of tweeting move from lulu to this area towards near the Ministry of Information Fort. But we are not sure precisely why. There are a number of factors that might be leading to this:

  1. Many Bahrainis have noticed a massive increase in "troll" posts accusing the pro-democracy movement of an ever shifting and expanding set of crimes. Starting from closing schools and disrupting traffic it has evolved now to no less than terrorism, causing foreign intervention (which would be funny if not for the current Saudi led occupation's brutality), and any other number of crimes. Unlike the reform group, which are composed by a set of stable tweeps, these pro-government accounts are an ever shifting mass of new accounts all the time. Some people have suggest that the MoI government offices might be the source of heavy geo-tweeting. But review by a more precise tool that take a far small radius has confirm tweets are not coming from the Ministry of Information in large number.
  2. More precise analysis of the tweets coming form Bahrain indicate the area just east of Sulmaniya Hospital and between the the Ministry of Information and what used to be Pearl Roundabout are areas where a lot of people are making tweets.
  3. We are also still seeing people tweeting from Pearl Roundabout itself, though it is no longer the center it was during the protests. These areas are associated with the opposition.
  4. We are not seeing high levels of tweeting near Al Fateh or other areas associated with pro-government supporters.
  5. We are also seeing continued high levels of tweeting in Khobar Saudi Arabia, where we suspect the most sympathetic supporters of Bahrain in the Saudi Kingdom live.
Based on these assessment and continued review of the content of Twitter, including posts translated from Arabic and confirmed to be from Bahrain, we draw the following conclusions:

  1. The current crack down has not broken the protest movement, the movement is still very active online and has maintained it cohesion and sense of outrage.
  2. Oddly what has been broken is much of the online cohesion of pro-government supporters. The combination of foreign occupation, destruction of a national landmark, and repression has seemed to have taken the heart out of many people in Bahrain who supported the regime. We are seeing no evidence of organized citizen groups using Web 3.0 technology to express support for the Regime, we did in the past.
  3. That on the ground, there is a high probability of future demonstrations against the government, but that we will likely see no more pro-government protests not coordinated by the regime.
  4. We suspect that their is more connectivity between protesters in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain than the Royal family of either nation would like to admit. But we suspect opposition groups in both countries are in regular communication with each other.

One of the hardest issues with any opposition group is forming a unified set of demands. The division within the opposition over if the King should stay and reform or if a Republic should be created was a profound weakness within the opposition. But from our reading of the twitter hashtags related to Bahrain these issues are being pushed to the back burner for the opposition, as arrests and repression unify more and more Bahrain's people against the occupation.

Summary: Though he occupation has applied a great deal of force against the opposition, it has not only failed to break it but the opposition remains coherent while support for the regime has become subdued. So we will anticipate that future Internet organized protests will take place in the future.

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