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Lately, we've seen social media redefine modern revolutions. This week, we highlight the role of Twitter and updates from Twitter-users in the current Libyan uprising. Spot Muslim Matters' own Br Youssef Chouhoud's tweets that have also been popular on Twitter...

Sunday Open Thread | Tweeting Revolutions

I'm starting off this post with the assumption that most, if not all of you, now know what Twitter is. A couple of months back, it was still pretty much unheard of, or at least not known very widely, but today, courtesy several recent world events, even those not well-versed with the internet have heard of Twitter!

I've been following the evolving situation in the Middle East, particularly Libya and Bahrain these days, on my Twitter feed. It really is fascinating how Twitter has shaped the face of modern revolutions by allowing people to directly post live updates for the world to see (and share like spreading wildfire!), in a very simple manner. One-hundred-and-forty characters are often enough to send your message across and inform, co-ordinate, communicate the latest happenings.

It's true that giving credit to social media sites like Twitter, alone, is neither appropriate nor representative of the facts. However, they have played a major role. When users tweet about the latest happenings, for example, it not only allows people to stay connected but also brings the issue to the world's attention. On Twitter, the 'trending topics' list is constantly updated with the most talked-about topics and keywords on the site, worldwide, allowing people from different nationalities to come into direct contact with one another. We saw that in the Egyptian revolution when protesters were tweeting and posting pictures from within Tahrir Square, the center-point of the uprising.

The Libyan government has clamped down on the internet so it has been difficult to get word out, particularly with the ban on international journalists reporting from Libya. However, stories and updates to leak out and again, we've seen many tweets on Twitter from within Libya, or by proxy. Several international news organizations like CNN have been able to enter Libya through difficult means and are sending reports now. CNN's Anderson Cooper, based in the US at present, has also been running regular programs and also encouraging people through his Twitter updates, to monitor the uprising and help the troubled people however they can. The work of Al Jazeera, also active on Twitter, has been unparalleled in broadcasting the latest updates from various Middle-Eastern nations.

Several tweets have been prominent on feeds, being re-tweeted (which basically means to share with others or reblogged, in tumblr-speak) at least over a hundred times up to many times that figure to make it to the top ranks. In fact, Muslim Matters' own writer, Br Youssef Chouhoud found two of his recent tweets become so popular that they became  'top tweets' under several hashtags (popular keywords on Twitter) related to the Libyan revolt. I think it's an excellent idea for more Muslims to get actively involved in areas where they can have a positive influence for change. It might seem like a small thing to do but, as with all movements, it's always individual effort coming together that has a beneficial impact. Coming back to Br Youssef's popular tweeting, here it is and some other tweets that I came across. Have a look…

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And another top tweet by Br Youssef Chouhoud…

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So what's your take on this? Are you an active tweeter? Are there any particular people you follow on Twitter, who've been instrumental in getting the word out or keeping the discussion alive?

About Ameera Khan

Ameera is a final-year medical student and blogger based in Karachi, Pakistan. Having been born and raised in Tabuk, Saudi Arabia, her approach towards her Deen has always been rooted in a basic understanding from authentic sources, which was further polished during a three-year weekend course at Al Huda Institute. Her interests, though, seem to know no bounds and range from a passion for the culinary arts and travelling, as well as following current affairs and global happenings. She feels being able to be part of MuslimMatters is one of the major blessings of Allah(swt) upon her, for it has given her a chance to learn and grow. She also maintains her personal blog at http://duskanddawn.wordpress.com.

8 comments

  1. U forgot to mention that mm has over 7k followers now and ability to reach that many ppl can help author tweets to reach critical mass to then reach elite levels…

    Alhamdulillah, between twitter and fb (where tweets end up automatically on wall), social media had become a great arm for us to reach many folks!

    Bottom-line, use us!

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  2. It has indeed been amazing watching history unfold in real-time over a computer screen. One word of caution though, not all that’s shot through the Twittersphere is valid. The downside of citizen journalism is that when it grows exponentially and the means to disseminate are made simple, the emphasis on “journalism” – that is, on verification – tends to fall by the wayside.

    That said, there are a ton of individuals you can follow for pithy, timely, and accurate information on world events. Here are two of the best: @sultanalqassemi, @bencnn. Also, the Daily News Egypt Twitter list is very useful as you get the speed of Twitter and journalistic ethic in one.

    And this guy @TheAlexandrian is alright, too…I guess :)

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  3. I’m not an avid user of twitter, (I’m slow when it comes to new technology:) but I’m so pleased that there is a tool to help oppressed people get their voices heard. I can’t believe that twitter and fb are just a couple of years old – but just look at how these mediums can be used toward a greater good.

    Great post Ameera!

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  4. I started using twitter just before the revolution in Egypt and am so glad that I jumped on that bandwagon. At first I had thought it was just weird to put up tweets- I thought most of them were like ‘at coffee shop in Bangkok ummmm’ why do we need to let the whole world read that? but I am glad I didn’t let that prejudice stop me. Love twitter- less fitna than FB. Real time news/views on topics that interest me.

    How activists kept the rhythm going in Egypt was inspiring and not only that; getting supportive messages from people all over the world, cautioning the activists not to let violence take over their peaceful message was a great source of solidarity and comfort for those on the ground- judging from their tweets.
    you could feel the ebb and flow of the emotions. It is a great tool.

    Great post Ameera- I love the screen images!

    Brother Youssef and Brother Amad thanks for your tireless updates! I think our readers probably think we have some serious personality disorders because our tweets go from inspirational to ‘snarky’ :) to academic to grassroots activist mode depending on who is tweeting.

    Tweeting @HenaZuberi and @Makeurdeengreen

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  5. Excellent lecture by Sh Yasir Qadhi about basis of unity:

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  6. During the protests in Bangkok, I got more and better news from Twitter than the news agencies! What got said on Twitter got said about an hour before the news reported it, which turned out to be super important!

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