If one believes that effective social change, especially in tough authoritarian conditions, can't succeed without getting citizens to participate in old-school political processes showing up to political marches, risking one's life defying the police, getting beaten up and thrown in jail then the ability to sign online petitions and retweet links to news articles may not seem impressive. In fact, it may even give the young people living in those countries the wrong impression that politics driven by virtual rather than real protest is actually preferable to the mundane and often corrupt world of traditional oppositional movements.
[A] great many countries are neither well-established liberal democracies nor well-entrenched authoritarian regimes. Do the weak ties promoted by Facebook make it harder to steal an election in Mexico? Provide a useful outlet for opposition views in Venezuela? Point the way to an alternative to Silvio Berlusconi domination of Italian broadcast media? I don’t really have a well-informed or strongly-held view on those questions, but they’re all elements of promoting liberal politics.
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