Social media : Instigating factor or appropriated tool? Assessing the level of agency ascribed to the use of social media for the organization and coordination of the 25th January Revolution in Egypt

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This research addresses the perceived importance of the use of social media for the organization of the 25th of January, 2011, revolution in Egypt. Individual face-to-face semi-structured interviews and face-to-face collected written surveys were the main research methods used to acquire the research data. This research shows that there is a relationship between the use of social media and the way in which the revolution has unfolded in Egypt. Social media is perceived to have made the revolutionary process unfold in a faster pace and the initial organization and coordination trough the social media platforms have made the revolution a leaderless revolution. Social media played a significant role but it should not be seen as an instigating factor, however. The role that the social media platforms played, must be seen in a wider framework of interdependent processes and factors that are also perceived as important to the unfolding of the revolutionary process by the Egyptian people. Significant differences have been found between different population groups in how important they perceive the use of social media for the organization of the revolution. Egyptians with an university degree, who have an internet connection at home and who have a Facebook account, find the use of social media significantly more important for the organization of the revolution in Egypt than others. The people using social media perceive the use of social media as more important because they were more aware of how the use of these platforms contributed to the revolution. In addition, those people who didn't use social media often perceive the use of social media as less important because they didn't need the platforms to communicate and organize. The agency of the revolution lies with the Egyptian people, who transformed the social media platforms, that are designed for slacktivistic activities, into a tool used by the activists for political purposes. The news organizations represented the revolution in Egypt as a ‘Facebook revolution’ because these organizations often retrieved their own information from social media, because it was catchy, because it was an easy story to transfer to the audience and because it overshadows the Western historical role in supporting the oppressive regime.
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