Last year Malcolm Gladwell famously discarded the role of social media in revolutions, and having witnessed the Facebook revolution in Egypt, is still sticking to his point. And raising certain issues.
“I’ve been as dumbstruck as everyone else by what’s happened in the Middle East,” he told CNN recently. “But I can’t look in the past at social revolutions and see examples of cases where people had a problem… getting lots of people together.”
Gladwell says the revolution in East Germany materialised despite a 13% phone ownership rate.
But that’s akin to arguing that, despite the precedent of political uprisings prior to the development of guns and tanks, these weapons have not changed the nature of revolutions, notes Gigaom.
Gladwell also raised the counterpoint that dictators themselves can co-opt these same tools for their purposes. And we have certainly seen the spread of messages of the unsavory sort on the social media platform. On Tuesday, Facebook shut down the “Third Palestinian Intifada” page, which called for a violent Islamic war against the Jews, and had garnered over 350,000 likes over the past month.
The issue of social media’s role in social revolts gets murkier because, as the Wall Street Journal noted, the social media technology is in the hands of American companies. Facebook had at one point, disabled the famous page credited for inciting the revolution in Egypt; and Flickr had deleted a user’s photos of Egypt’s police force.
Perhaps with these issues in mind, Malcolm Gladwell says revolution is about the ideology, not the page nor the tweet.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.