As we discussed in class this week, social media played an integral role in the Arab Spring, specifically as a means to publicize injustices and elicit response across borders and cultures. Because I am doing my country project on Morocco, I thought it would be interesting to see how social media influenced Arab spring participation throughout the country. I know that the movement significantly impacted Morocco as the country credits its first budget deficit in years to increased spending by the government to ward off any social unrest from regional turmoil. This article in Morocco World News, written by a native Moroccan, documents the role played by social media in the movement and the reaction of the Moroccan people.
Mohamed Kharbach, a native Moroccan, credits the real start of the Arab Spring with the Wiki Leaks reports that exposed corruption, torture, and other heinous government acts which began a “growing curiosity and Mounting thirst for information” among the Arab world. Kharbach says Arabs, specifically Moroccans, turned to the internet mostly through social media. He says that youth in the area began sharing information instead of mindless rambling. Ghaddafi called the facebookers in Libya “just kids gibber” but I, personally, was in Morocco when Ghadaffi was killed and the celebration in the streets looked to be a little more that “gibber” to me. Kharbach believes that the information sharing and event dissemination of the Arab spring would not have reached Morocco without social networking as a way to inform the people of events such as the bloodshed in Syria and danger in Libya through Facebook and Youtube.
Outside of the Arab Spring, Kharbach credits the recent democratic election for heads of state under the King to the internet as a means of raising public awareness. From this article, it seems the Moroccan people are grateful for the progress made through ICT, especially in the sense that is has allowed for peaceful collaboration in many areas as a way to make a unified stand.
Ps. In the article, Kharbach uses the term “netizen” quite frequently. This term is defined as “an entity or person actively involved in online communities and a user of the internet”.