New Media Revolutions: High Risk, High Reward?

Evgeny MorozovĀ remains pessimistic about the Internet's democratic potential. But even Morozov doesn't do the full-Gladwell:

The lesson here is that social media and technology can definitely make protests more effective. You look at what happened in Tunisia just a few weeks ago. Twitter and Facebook were used to get people into the streets. This is something that deserves recognition. The problem is that if the government doesn't end up falling in the end, the government also gets much more data and much better technology to engage in a crackdown.

What we saw happening in Iran two years ago was that the government simply went and collected all the tweets and Facebook messages and then went and arrested whoever it wanted because it had all the data. It's the same thing we saw in Belarus. Yes, it helped to bring people into the streets, but if the government doesn't fall in the end, it has a much better capacity, I would argue, than before technology, to actually go and track down anyone it doesn't like. So we have to be very careful.