Facebook, Not Just for Drunken Pix Anymore

No, now it’s fostering democratic change in authoritarian Egypt!!


ETHAN ZUCKERMAN, a research fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, told me that the April 6 movement (social democratic Egyptian FB group) illustrates what he calls the “cute-cat theory of digital activism.” Web sites or proxy servers created specifically for activists are easy for a government to shut down, Zuckerman says, but around the world, dissidents thrive on sites, like Facebook, that are used primarily for more mundane purposes (like exchanging pictures of cute cats). Authoritarian regimes can’t block political Facebook groups without blocking all the “American Idol” fans and cat lovers as well. “The government can’t simply shut down Facebook, because doing so would alert a large group of people who they can’t afford to radicalize,” Zuckerman explained.
Isn’t that crazy? An internet site started for college kids to exchange meaningless, goofy pictures and lulz is now a medium for revolution. The Internet is a terrible and awe-inspiring place.

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