The Top 5 Twitter-Enhanced Revolutions

Like many of you, I am a tweetaholic. I tweet far too many times a day and often question why I am doing so. Embarrassed by the frequency, absurdity, and insignificance of my tweets, I had typically labeled Twitter as a social media source ranked just above Instagram in terms of necessity and relevance. It wasn’t until recently have I recognized the significance of it. If I were to describe Twitter in one word I would say: Revolutionary. It has been a driving force to spread information and enact change. It consistently beats the news and its constant flow of information makes it the most satisfying social media platform to use. Most importantly? It’s an outlet for change. It gives people in need the ability to stretch across the borders of their countries and beyond the restrictions of their governments.

Here are my top 5 Twitter-enhanced revolutions.

And how Twitter became a medium of revolutionary action worldwide.


5. The 2009 Election Protests in Iran

Up until the Iranian election of 2009, the people were tweeting constantly their opinions and local happenings. Turning Twitter into an outlet for the world to see their cause, the Iranian people caused uproar. The government, in turn, unprepared, was forced to try and regulate tweets while a constant influx of new ones continued to sprout up. Iranians banded together to overcome censorship. They sent pictures. They documented the harsh facts. Suddenly the details of the violence of the protests were made viral. All through this little thing called Twitter.

4. Libyan Revolution

The Libyan Revolution proved to be a social media driven one as well. After the government shut down the Internet in an effort to cover up the specificities of the protests, rumors spread that dictator Muammar Gaddafi had left Lybia after months of a vicious war against the rebels. Photos of the dead Gaddafi later were released. Where were these photos leaked and circulated through first? Twitter.

3. The January 2011 “Day of Rage” Revolution in Egypt

During the political crisis in January 2011, tweets from Egypt were spreading viral images, videos, and news spurts out like rapid fire. The government blocked all Internet access in an effort to stop the spread. However, as the Internet today proves to be a spiderweb of links, the retweeting and sharing of these first-hand accounts of crises continued to cross into countries worldwide.

2. 2009 Moldova Civil Unrest

After communists were elected to form a government in Moldova, the “progressive youth” began protesting. With the help of Twitter, the word was spread and reached over 10,000 people. Thousands joined the revolt and fled to protest at major government buildings throughout Moldova. Potential rioters and foreign countries alike were kept in the loop with the inner workings of the protests.

1. The Death of Osama bin Laden

In reflecting on how Twitter can so rapidly spread information and reports worldwide, I took a step back to consider a time when this affected me directly Nothing sticks out more than when I discovered that Osama bin Laden had died… via my Twitter feed. Checking my feed periodically, like many others, I first heard of his death through murmurs on the site. This news circulated nearly 20 minutes prior to any major broadcasts made regarding the breaking news. I knew even before my parents heard and remember us sitting in disbelief anxiously awaiting CNN to confirm what we were coincidentally able to find out just minutes before online.

As a former marketing chief of Unilever describes it, Twitter is, in a nutshell, “word of mouth on steroids.”

Twitter has emerged as a place where opinions and thoughts can be swapped and, more importantly, inside information spread. Finally the backstories to major news headlines are unveiled and voices of first-hand witnesses can be heard. Known now as part of the Twitter Revolution, between 2009-2011 many protests and rebellions were coordinated through the use of Twitter as seen by this Top 5. More often than not what is said via Twitter or other social media outlets is often a completely different view or commentary on the official publications that are released. As The New York Times commented during the Twitter Revolution period, “The recognition that an Internet blogging service can affect history in an ancient Islamic country is a new-media milestone.” The Internet and more specifically, social media, has risen as the primary tool for the spread of not just opinions and news but of the harsh facts and stark realities of people who are often left deprived of voices. It only has me questioning one thing – What next? How on earth will word be able to travel faster in just a few years than it does right now? All we can do is anxiously wait to see what new platform can trump the power of the little birdie that could.

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