Arab Youth and the 'facebook Revolution': The Role of Social Media and Youth Culture

Monday, 11 July 2016: 09:45
Location: Hörsaal 50 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Natalia WAECHTER, University of Graz, Austria

Due to the young people’s use of social networking sites the events of the Arab spring have also been labelled the ‘Facebook revolution’. The presentation will analyze if that label is appropriate and in which ways. Furthermore, it will investigate the role of youth culture in the Arab spring. The research presented is part of the FP7 project “ARABTRANS – Political and social transformations in the Arab world” (2013-2016), funded by the European Commission. The analysis is based on new empirical data from a large scale survey (N=2000 for each country) among seven countries (Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Morocco and Tunisia) focusing on political participation and the use of the Internet and of social networking sites.

Our analysis shows that most young people in the researched Arab countries aged 18 to 25 use the Internet as well as social networking sites, above all Facebook and Youtube. Online social networks seem to have contributed to the cause of the protesters in various ways: as an organizing tool, as a news source and as a public arena for building a community of like-minded activists. The young population uses them, above all, for getting informed about political news and for discussing politics, but also for learning about political events, and even for organizing political events. Our analysis further shows how youth culture seems to be a perfect tool for reaching and mobilizing the young population, especially when distributed through social media.