The Arab Spring

Social media as a catalyst and enabler of social and political change

The building was an enormous one, rearing its lofty head fully a thousand feet into the air. But few buildings in Zodanga were higher than these barracks, though several topped it by a few hundred feet; the docks of the great battleships of the line standing some fifteen hundred feet from the ground, while the freight and passenger stations of the merchant squadrons rose nearly as high.

The Voice

by Muhammad Mustafa


Mixed media/Digital

“The authenticity in the collective consciousness turns borders into ashes that will never hide us again. With our wings wide and strong, we are free to live in a world where we can expand and hope in more ways than we ever could.”

Muhammad is a Cairo-based artist and he has been a professional illustrator since 2007. He is most inspired by history and nature.

The Arab Spring

Our #TBT10 moment for 2012 began mid-December 2010 when a fruit vendor lit himself aflame after being apprehended by police for failing to have a license to sell goods. Over the next two years revolutionary behaviour took place across North Africa and the Middle East, in response to oppressive governments in the region. When authorities attempted to silence protesters, the entire globe watched the events unfold through a young generation and their activity on social media.

Social was both the catalyst for change and a crucial window for the rest of the world. It gave a voice to marginalised groups, allowing them to transmit news bites that would otherwise not have made it to mainstream news media. Twitter and Facebook communities gave a regional issue global urgency, igniting solidarity and calls for government action. On the ground, social was the lifeline of the revolution, mobilising action going in constantly changing situations. People used it to transmit information on medical requirements, essential telephone numbers and keep up with the changing satellite frequencies of news channels.

What else happened in 2012?

Red Bull breaks records

Red Bull Stratos skydiver Felix Baumgartner livestreams his 128,000 feet space jump. Millions watch.

The 2012 Olympics gets social

Athletes in hot water for rogue tweets and a GPS failure due to lack of bandwidth were just two of the problems caused by social media during the Olympics.

The Pope joins Twitter

In a move aimed at modernising the Catholic church, Pope Benedict XVI joins Twitter using the handle @Pontifex.

K-Pop goes global

Gangnam Style pushes K-Pop into the limelight, becoming the first video to reach 1b views on YouTube.