Did Social Media Cause The Egyptian Revolution?

CONNECTED in CAIRO

social mediaI was recently asked (by otherwise sensible people), “Dr. Peterson, how would you assess the predominant media narrative that the ‘Arab Spring’ revolutions—nicknamed ‘Facebook revolutions’ at the time—were caused by social media?”

This was my answer:

Much depends on what you mean by causality.

A few years ago I sat in on a senior capstone course on international policy. The idea was to assess a particular problem in US policy and make recommendations. One of the student projects recommended that the US could start a revolution in the particular country about which they were advising simply by promoting Internet access in the country. Apparently they had read Wael Ghonim’s maxim ” if you want to liberate a society just give them the Internet” as policy rather than exuberant hyperbole.

I had to explain to them just a few of the complexities of the so-called Internet revolution in Egypt, not least of…

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