After the "Arab Spring" surprised the world with the power of technology to revolutionize political dissent, governments are racing to develop strategies to respond to, and even control, the new player in the political arena social media. Anti-government protesters in Tunisia and Egypt used Twitter, Facebook and other platforms to run rings around attempts at censorship and organize demonstrations that ousted presidents Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak. That served as a wake-up call to those in authority.
By allowing millions of citizens to coordinate political action quickly and often without conventional leadership, the new technology is challenging traditional political power structures. "Social media is better for strategic rather than tactical analysis," Fadl Al Tarzi, chief operating officer at United Arab Emirates-based monitoring firm News Group International, States Institute for Peace in Washington, D.C. "It is hard to predict exactly when something will happen but it can show you broader trends. Yes, if you had enough conversations with enough of the right people you would get the same level of information but that is not always economic or feasible to do or possible at the same speed."
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