Study Finds the Internet Is Actually Bad for Revolutions

As Arab governments continue to topple and as citizens of said countries tweet the revolution, it seems logical that social media has at least a little bit in some way aided rebel uprisings. Not so much, says Yale's Navid Hassanpour. "Full connectivity in a social network sometimes can hinder collective action," he wrote in a study reports The New York Times's Noam Cohen. His study found that Tweeting and Facebooking can help spread a message, but it can also create confusion, and when it comes to action doesn't do much. And he's not the first to counter the belief that Twitter fueled the Arab Spring.

When Hosni Mubarak shut down the Internet in the middle of the Tahrir square protests, things heated up even more -- sans access to Twitter argues Hassanpour. Basically, the disruption got people away from their computers and off of their asses. "It implicated many apolitical citizens unaware of or uninterested in the unrest; it forced more face-to-face communication, i.e., more physical presence in streets; and finally it effectively decentralized the rebellion on the 28th through new hybrid communication tactics, producing a quagmire much harder to control and repress than one massive gathering in Tahrir." This happens because ties made on social media aren't particularly strong adds Malcolm Gladwell in The New Yorker. "The Internet lets us exploit the power of these kinds of distant connections with marvellous efficiency. It's terrific at the diffusion of innovation, interdisciplinary collaboration, seamlessly matching up buyers and sellers, and the logistical functions of the dating world. But weak ties seldom lead to high-risk activism."

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