GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

Family Name:
Omair Anas
First Name:
Title of Paper:
A Social Media Theory for Arab World after Arab Spring
Paper Proposal Text :
Hype over social media’s role in Arab revolution has gradually faced reality of politics in the street which now seems disenchanted. Social media’s mobilizing force in Egypt is now divided according to the political divisions in the country. States are much more prepared for controlling social media and cyber media in general. States’ strategies to deal with powerful social media are changing. And the third issue is nature of social media itself is not static and its dynamic and ever changing profile is also contributing in some sense of disillusionment among those who have been using it for political mobilizations.

These three factors have suggested that social media’s mobilizing of political opinion in the Arab world is not a linear journey as it was talked during the Arab uprisings. Increasing state monitoring, auto censuring, and street politics are contributing in redefining its role in the region. After incomplete Arab Spring, there is a pessimist view of social media which argues that social media’s role was overstated. This paper does not subscribe the pessimist view but it argues that there is growing tendency of hide and seek game between activists and the states. Freedom space is limited and social media is also changing its techniques to reach wider audiences. Until now, social media is much dependent on physical networks in order to have political mobilization in favor of one or other force. This is what is now understood as Cyber Realism which has now been faced by Arab Public Sphere. After Arab Spring has seen a powerful street, an elected parliament and president, all revolutionary Facebook pages have been occupied by fierce internal debate which has affected mobilizing power of social media. A good example is breakup between Egypt’s pioneer Facebook campaign page We are Khaled Said and its Arabic page Kulluna Khaled Said, as the former has sided with Muslim Brotherhood led Alliance for Legitimacy and the later decided to stay away from politics and hence it has not posted anything since the declaration of roadmap by General Abdel Fattah Al Sisi on 3 July 2013.

Now the universality of social media is itself in question. Because of its dependency on political and social contexts, social media and its users are supposed to define their political orientations on social media in response to these realities. This may result in emergence of Cyber Realism in which market is not yet a very big force. Arab users are needed to be identified more precisely in relation to their political and economic systems in which they are reacting to the media. Doing so, Arab world is engaged in more innovative experiments in social media in comparison to other countries where internet accessibility is now widespread such as India. It is argued that Arab world’s social media use is much more dynamic than that of India’s social media. This may be identified within region’s political and social realities where users are more engaged and more interactive as reports have suggested.

This paper will search grounds for cyber realism in the Arab world and subsequent responses of states, users and social media and how the political mobilization is affected by these factors. A comparative analysis of existing social media reports, regional comparison and some case studies from the region will be employed in the analysis.