Social media has provided a platform for revolutionaries to organize, plan, and fund their protests, and carried their message to the world. Many popular pages and social media activists are assisting and facilitating these processes by getting involved in their publication with their numerous followers. That is in addition to their original content which they dedicate to supporting the cause of the revolution.
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Reddit, and other social media platforms also have a role in covering the protests and showing the different angles of the picture. They have an especially important part to play when the mainstream media is absent or restrained.
When the authority forces media blackouts on certain areas of protest or uses its biased news stations to manipulate the truth about the revolution, it becomes the protesters’ responsibility to deliver the real scenes to the world through their pocket broadcast stations.
Unless the authority applies a total internet and cellular network blackout to the entire country, it cannot silence every social media account and block every Livestream in the country. This unblockable power has given the people the upper hand in the ongoing ferocious media fight.
But not all social media activists have good intentions; there has been a lot of propaganda created by anti-revolution parties to distort the real image of the protesters and present them as chaotic and ill-willed. It is, again, the duty of social media activists and users to combat those campaigns and expose their destructive intentions.
Moreover, it is also important to acknowledge that this social media fight could possibly have dangerous consequences for revolutionary activists.
By openly supporting the revolution and denouncing political figures, these pages and activists are shedding light on themselves, possibly putting their reputations, their businesses, and themselves at risk in the future.
This is because Lebanon’s democratic system has a noticeable hint of dictatorship to it. It is no secret that the ruling parties are headed by leaders who meet opposition, criticism, and rivalry to their positions with oppression.
The godfathers and their mafiosos will use every dirty trick in the book to maintain their imperial positions, and social media activists may face oppression due to their position under the spotlight. None of this takes place above surface though.
Political figures fear for their public image because it is the one thing that can easily bring them down. If they are caught red-handed in the act of using repression against people practicing their freedom of speech and expression in a democratic country, the international community will see the reality behind their “clean politician” persona, and persona is everything in politics.
Fortunately, this weakness can be exploited by social media figures and their power of publicity to protect themselves from aggressors, and continue to support their revolution.
The fact that “Whatsapp” was the last straw that caused the eruption of the Lebanese revolution, aside from its many implications, shows how much the Lebanese people value social media and their right to use it to express themselves openly and freely through their favorite platforms.