FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 1, 2013
NEW BOOK PROBES SOCIAL MEDIA USE
IN ‘RAGE, REBELLION, REVOLUTION’
SPOKANE, Washington—While social media did not cause the Arab Spring two years ago, they certainly contributed to the organization, speed and significance of the tumultuous uprisings that toppled three regimes in North Africa and the Middle East and played significant roles in other global events, including the re-election of Barack Obama.
These were some of the conclusions drawn by international scholars in a new book, Social Media Go to War: Rage, Rebellion and Revolution in the Age of Twitter, published recently by Marquette Books in Spokane.
Thirty-nine scholars contributed 29 chapters in the wide-sweeping analysis of social media use in war, insurrections, revolutions and quests for social justice in Cuba, Georgia, Egypt, India, Iran, Jordan, Thailand, Tunisia and the United States, where President Obama’s use of social media contributed to his November victory, and mobilized protesters in the Wisconsin budget battle. The shifting the U.S. Department of Defense policies on social media use by military personnel are also analyzed.
The 524-page book also looks at the philosophy, theories and policies behind social media before launching into case studies around the world. Separate parts of the book examine the “Persian Spring” in Iran in 2009, and the Arab Spring in Tunisia, Egypt and Jordan in 2011.
The book completes a trilogy of books published by Marquette Books that examine media behavior in times of turmoil and crisis. All three were edited by Dr. Ralph D. Berenger, a mass communication professor at the American University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates. Other books in the series were the critically acclaimed Global Media Go to War: Role of News and Entertainment in the 2003 Iraq War (2004), and Cybermedia Go to War: Role of Converging Media During and After the 2003 Iraq War (2006).
“What we have been witnessing over the past decade, though the dynamics of contentious or violent events, is demassification of media across all platforms,” Berenger said. “The shift was made possible by technological innovation and growth of such Internet-based outlets such as YouTube, Weblogs, and a host of social media sites like Facebook, among others. The emergence of hand-held information and communication devices such as smartphones and tablets equipped with video cameras has resulted in technologically empowered individuals. Today, anyone can become a multi-media news reporter and analyst, and set the agenda for mass media on which issues to discuss and debate, potentially affecting millions of people. The trilogy tracks and documents that progression.”
The individual communication empowerment movement began with Weblogs and text messaging around the time of the 2003 Iraq war, Berenger said, and reached its current peak with popular social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, where anyone can make his or her opinions known and “scoop” the mainstream media. In turn, traditional mass media act as “megaphones for unmediated information” that helps shape public opinion by adding legitimacy and credibility.
Social Media Go to War should appeal not only to media scholars but to general public concerned with how media behave—and influence them—during times of crisis and turmoil.
A resident of Boise, Idaho, Berenger has lived and worked in Africa and the Middle East for since 2000.
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