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Class politics of the Twitter revolution

August 15, 2013

During the February revolution in 2011 in Egypt, social media platforms were among the major sources of news and information for the uprising. So much so that many analysts went as far as calling the events, that lead to the ousting of Hosni Mubarak and his thirty year rule as the Facebook or Twitter revolution and the citizen journalist became the protagonist of this new, 21st century form of activism. It was difficult to catch up with the Twitter and Facebook feeds and posts were shared and re-posted across the networks in an unprecedented rate. Buzzwords of this new media landscape were hashtags and push-notifications and many experts surmised the dawn of a new era for human rights where under the watchful gaze of digital cameras and cellphones that fed the networks in real time, concealing the atrocities became much more challenging for the perpetrators.

The coup that ousted Morsi was also vastly celebrated on Facebook, sympathizers questioned how news outlets such as Al Jazeera were not fully behind the military take over as much as they stood behind the February revolution.


Yet the recent massacre and the killings of Muslim Brotherhood members, supporters and sympathizers are not covered as fervently as the events of the past two years. While the beating and the killing of civilians during the revolution—that hardly came close to the body count of the recent days— was vastly covered by the social media, the events of the past few days did not share the same coverage, likes and shares on online platforms.

While these lines are definitely flawed with over generalizations, as they only rely on my personal social media network (which for the most part does not include Brotherhood sympathizers) one wonders if there is a class dimension to the notion of Facebook/Twitter revolution? Is there a certain liberal, left-leaning conception of what defined the social media framing of the revolution, which does not account for the body count and the universal rights of the Muslim leaning parties? Is there a relationship between a certain notion of freedom that is more in line with the individual freedoms of liberal democracy that does not account for the rights of others with conflicting and antagonistic positions? To repeat, does class play a role in the Twitter revolution?

(what comes above is solely based on my personal social media network and this piece remains ignorant of possible other online coverage of the recent events on other networks. Yet as I assume that for the most part my network could be probably described as middle class, educated class and such, the above-mentioned questions remain pertinent)

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