Could Tunisia Be The Next Twitter Revolution?

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TUNISIAGerardJulien:AFP:Getty

Ethan Zuckerman poses the question:

What’s fascinating to me is that the events of the past three weeks in Tunisia might actually represent a “Twitter revolution”, as has been previously promised in Moldova and in Iran. There’s been virtually no coverage of the riots and protests in the thoroughly compromised local media – to understand what’s going on in their country, many Tunisians are turning to YouTube and DailyMotion videos, to blogs, Twitter and especially Facebook. The government hasn’t made it easy to access these sites – not only are several social media platforms blocked, they appear to be conducting phishing attacks on users of Gmail, Facebook and other online services. ...

So why isn’t the global twittersphere flooding the internet with cries of “Yezzi Fock!” (the rallying cry of the movement, which translates as “We’ve had enough!” in local slang)?

Perhaps we’re less interested because the government in danger of falling isn’t communist, as in Moldova, or a nuclear-armed member of the Axis of Evil, Iran? Perhaps everyone’s read Evgeny Morozov’s new book and followed his path from celebrating the Moldova twitter revolution to concluding the internet is most useful for dictators, not for revolutionaries? ...

I don’t know whether most people are missing the events in Tunisia because they don’t speak French or Arabic, because they don’t see the Mahgreb as significant as Iran, because they’re tired of social media revolution stories or because they’re mourning the tragedy in Tucson. I’m disappointed and frustrated, not just because I care deeply for Tunisian friends who have been working for justice in their country for years, but because real change in the world is a rare thing, and it’s a shame that people would miss the chance to watch it unfold.

(Photo: People hold Tunisian national flags as they demonstrate against Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali on January 12, 2011 in Marseille, southern France near the Tunisian consulate. Anger over a government crackdown on protesters in Tunisia grew today as a union official said 50 people were killed in three days of violence, more than double a toll issued by the Interior ministry. By Gerard Julien/AFP/Getty.)

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