CHAPTER 7: GOVERNMENT AND SOCIETY
IMAGES FROM TAHRIR square in Cairo, Egypt during early 2011 serve to remind us of the power of a coordinated group of young protestors and the threat that such a movement can represent for the ruling government. The “Arab Spring” is the name given to the protests, demonstrations and civil unrest that started in December 2011 and spread throughout the Arab world. While some observers compare the Arab Spring with the “Revolutions of 1989” in Eastern Europe, the main difference has been the use of social media as a means of communication for successfully organizing and coordinating these protests.
Tunisia, Yemen, Libya, and Egypt have all witnessed the fall of their rulers and a civil war is ongoing in Syria. While Tunisia is making good progress with establishing democracy, both Yemen and Libya are still struggling. Egypt’s troubles continue as its newly elected president, Mohamed Morsi, was locked up in prison and violence is on the rise again.
Government is increasingly realizing that the Internet and social media offer a means of understanding society and designing policies that have a greater likelihood of being both accepted and effective. One likes to imagine that the government has our best interests at heart and that its intelligence agencies are dutiful in protecting us against threats to our way of life that might arise from terrorism, criminal activity, and cybercrime. Throughout history, governments and rulers ...