Twitter Revolution: Social Media as Broadcast Media

The discussion of the impact of social media like Twitter and Facebook on popular uprisings has focused on their role as networking and organizing tools. Their function as broadcast media has been less appreciated.

The thought was triggered by something we haven't seen in the recent uprisings: the storming of state television networks -- even if in Egypt there were some late moves to assemble in front of the network headquarters. In historical terms, control of a broadcast medium has been critical to revolutions. Because most of those broadcast media have been infrastructure-heavy, to contest state control of them, a revolutionary movement needed to have either the resources to build and defend parallel infrastructure or the force necessary to seize existing infrastructure from the state.

But with social media, popular movements now have access to low-cost, easily accessible, one-to-many broadcasting tools that make contesting classical broadcast media like television and radio unnecessary.

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