Arab Spring Update: Are Social Media Being Given Too Much Credit For Recent Changes In The Middle East?

In this podcast and transcript, from the Copyright Clearance Center’s Beyond the Book site, the CCC’s Chris Kenneally interviews Egyptian-born journalist Mona Eltahawy about recent events in the Middle East and the role social media have (or have not) played in those events. The podcast and transcript are provided here in their entirety with the CCC’s Beyond the Book site’s permission.

As popular uprisings have spread across the Middle East and North Africa, media pundits have credited Twitter and Facebook. But one Egyptian-born journalist based in New York says the acclaim for social media is misplaced, even though she admits to a Twitter addiction herself.

“It was a revolution of courage, rather than a revolution of Twitter or Facebook,” says Mona Eltahawy. “Social media connected real-life activists with online activists, and with ordinary Egyptians whose only exposure to politics came through Facebook and through tweets that they read. And through that connection, [Twitter] brought people out on the ground. But it was a tool. It was a weapon.”

An acclaimed freelance journalist, Mona Eltahawy is also a lecturer and researcher on the growing importance of social media in the Arab world. She spoke with CCC’s Chris Kenneally at the We Media NYC conference about her work and her insights on the Arab Spring.