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Social Media, Human Rights and Political Change

Boston College International & Comparative Law Review, Vol. 35, p. 145, 2012

44 Pages Posted: 3 Jun 2011 Last revised: 8 Feb 2012

Sarah Joseph

Monash University - Faculty of Law

Date Written: June 2, 2011

Abstract

This paper examines the role of social media in progressive political change, in light of its use in the Arab Spring uprisings. The concept of social media us explained, before arguments for and against the importance of social media in revolutions (eg those of Malcolm Gladwell and Clay Shirky) are examined. An account of the Arab Spring (to date) is then given, including the apparent role of social media. Evgeny Morozov's arguments are then outlined, including his contentions that social media and the internet can be tools of oppression rather than emancipation, and spreaders of hate and propaganda rather than tolerance and democracy. The US policy on internet freedom is critiqued too. Finally, the role of social media companies, and their accountability and responsibility given their (perhaps inadvertant) role as the facilitators of revolution, is discussed.

Keywords: Social media, political change, Arab Spring, human rights, revolutions, Twitter, Facebook

Suggested Citation

Joseph, Sarah, Social Media, Human Rights and Political Change (June 2, 2011). Boston College International & Comparative Law Review, Vol. 35, p. 145, 2012. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1856880 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1856880

Sarah Joseph (Contact Author)

Monash University - Faculty of Law ( email )

Wellington Road
Clayton, Victoria 3800
Australia

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