Facebook revolution

Recent political uprisings make use of social networking

Tech-tracking news website Memeburn (www.memeburn.com) has been paying attention to the relationship between Internet social networking and the recent political uprisings rocking the northern African countries of Tunisia and Egypt. Based on data it assembled from Facebook-statistics website Socialbakers.com, Memeburn found that a surge in Facebook users coincided with the timing of the uprisings in both countries.

On Jan. 10, six days after the death of Mohamed Bouazizi—the Tunisian street vendor who set off events by setting himself on fire in protest of corruption and repression—Facebook witnessed a surge of 150,000 new Tunisian members. On Jan. 21—when the Tunisian government offered amnesty to political groups—there was another spike of 50,000 Tunisians joining Facebook, making a total 11.4 percent increase in Facebook users in Tunisia for the month of January.

Likewise, in nearby Egypt, 217,600 Egyptians joined Facebook in the five days leading up to “The Day of Anger” (Jan. 25) against the government of longtime president Hosni Mubarak.

The Middle Eastern countries of Jordan and Yemen have also shown large spikes in Facebook sign-ups since late January.