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When former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak shut down internet access in the country, most thought it was just an attempt to control what was being reported about the situation. What we may just now be realizing is the important role that social media played in the protests and the eventual toppling of the president. Different forms of technology figured prominently in protest movements of the past, namely Iran in 1979 and the former Soviet Union in 1989. But Twitter and Facebook appear to be more effective means for communicating information vital to such events.

QUESTIONS:

  1. How do the new technologies of Facebook, Google, and Twitter compare to older technologies (e.g., fax machines) in terms of effectiveness and efficiency?
  2. Discuss the importance of persuasive and credible communication in the recent protests in Egypt.
  3. Facebook and Twitter are moderately rich channels versus the public gatherings in Tahrir Square. Does channel richness matter in a large-scale political protest movement? Why or why not?

SOURCE: C. Rhoads, “Technology Poses Big Test for Regimes,” Wall Street Journal (Retrievable online at http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704329104576138643482318336.html)

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