The rise of social media outlets such as Twitter and Facebook are not only an outlet for social networking, but also a platform for contentious politics. Social movement organizers have employed Twitter and Facebook as a means to organize protestors. This was particularly evident throughout the Arab Spring, notably in Egypt, the Twitter Revolution, and Tunisia with the fall of their respective dictators.
The effects of Twitter are also notable in Iran’s Green Movement. Iran’s Green Movement is a pro-democracy movement, emphasizing nationalism and pro-reform. Triggered by the 2009 presidential elections, which many Iranians believe to be rigged, the Green Movement utilized Twitter as a mechanism to mobilize protestors. As a result of Twitter’s high mobility and speed coupled with its concept of hashtags has made it easier for protestors to search for items as well as spread news quickly.
The use of social media as a form of mobilization is also evident with the Occupy Movement on both national and international levels. The Occupy Movement is composed of mainly young people in their 20s, who set up camps in parks as a sign of protest against the 1% of society in which the vast majority of wealth is accumulated. For Occupy, Twitter is not solely a tool for organizing protestors, but also a mechanism to spread news about their cause. One 27-year-old, activist has taken to Twitter to provide live, real-time reports of the business being handled at Occupy Wall Street’s nightly General Assembly meetings.
Social media has not only changed the way in which a generation communicates, but it has also transformed the nature of contentious politics. The ease of communication that Twitter provides has enabled movements to achieve international attention. In the face of globalization, the importance of social media has become an essential tool for social movements.