As those who followed the events of the Arab Spring are well aware, social media played a pivotal role in the development of the Arab uprisings that took place in 2011 and which continue to unfold today. In the revolutions of the last two years within various Arab states, social media has functioned as an organizational tool for protest leaders, a forum for government propaganda, and a vehicle for igniting discontent, anger, and ideas of freedom and liberation. The fluidity of knowledge and information afforded by our present-day social media technologies is seen by many as a major catalyst in the success of the revolutions that took place in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Libya.
One of the more interesting and novel tools I’ve found which emphasizes these points is an interactive map of the Middle East, created by The Guardian UK, which posts real-time tweets from Arab states undergoing revolution or political reform. The map went online in August of 2011 and is perpetually updated, maintaining a constant stream of both fact and opinion about political goings-on in countries such as Tunisia, Syria, Egypt and Yemen. The map includes tweets from bloggers, journalists and citizens in both Arab states and the Western world, and the tweets often contain links to outside news articles, revolutionary websites and other resources. The BBC is not the only news source to publish some permutation of an Arab Spring Twitter map, but theirs is the most reliable and up-to-date that’s also available in English. The variety of the perspectives offered as well as the real-time applicability of these tweets provide a fun, interactive lens for keeping up with the ongoing developments of the Arab Spring in real-time. Additionally, the map instills a sense of the importance of Twitter and similar platforms in the spread of revolutionary ideas which ignited and then fueled the Arab Spring revolutions.