The Power of Communication: How Whispers Inspired Revolutions Through the Centuries

Do you know how revolutions around the world start?

I grew up in a world where communication was predicated on “be careful what you say, because you don’t know who is listening,” but those who were listening to what regular people said understood that the greatest thing they could do was to “let people speak,” not stop them.

In this method, you may follow “breadcrumbs” that lead to the arrest and torture of opposition leaders and rebel commanders.

That was during communism, but we are now seeing an acceleration and increased dynamism in human communication, which appears to have fundamentally changed over the last several decades.

Not only is the connection faster, but the number of links linking us in the chaos of modern communication has expanded, as has the depth of the ties.

However, the most significant element is the power that modern communication affords us.

With the advent of the Internet, it became evident that almost no part of the world would ever be forgotten again.

We began to blend more and more of this “virtual” world into our “real life”.”

The introduction of social networks transformed the Internet into a platform where people could express their thoughts, jobs, and social activities.

It was only a matter of time before social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter evolved into fully fledged modern agoras, at which point politicians throughout the world became quite concerned about the comments that flowed through these virtual spaces.

Let us now expound on the “Arab Spring” and how widely employed social media was controlled by the government; eventually, the internet was shut down, and a revolution began to build; you may be wondering why?!

The Arab Spring is a catalyst for change.

The Arab Spring, a revolutionary wave of rallies, protests, and civil wars, erupted in late 2010.

This series of events transformed the political landscape of North Africa and the Middle East.

The Arab Spring began in Tunisia, prompted by the self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi, a street seller protesting police corruption and mistreatment.

Bouazizi’s desperate act sparked the Tunisian Revolution, prompting subsequent revolutions in Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and elsewhere.

These movements shared a unifying desire for more social fairness, economic opportunity, and political freedom, which resonated strongly with millions of people around the area.

The Arab Spring arose from widespread dissatisfaction with autocratic administrations, worsened by high unemployment, economic inequality, and a lack of political freedom.

Social media played a critical role in organising, disseminating, and amplifying demonstrators’ voices, defeating governmental media control efforts.

The Arab Spring produced a wide range of consequences, from the removal of long-standing governments in Egypt and Libya to destructive civil conflicts in Syria and Yemen.

The Arab Spring’s legacy continues to have an impact on global politics, demonstrating the force and unpredictable nature of citizen-led movements for change.

Has the moment arrived?

The Western world views the various revolutions that occurred or are presently taking place under the auspices of the Arab Spring, in the form of riots and rallies against ruling governments, as a success for social networks.

Because of the authorities’ tight control over the main media in conflict zones, social networks are increasingly being used to transmit information, which, due to their freedom of communication and lack of censorship, truly positions them as a suitable location for the spread of revolutionary messages.

However, the issue remains: is the Arab Twitter Spring simply a reflection of the Western world’s perspective of social networks, or is their influence truly significant?

Case of the Arab Spring

The incident occurred on December 17, 2010, in the streets of Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia. It is widely recognised as the start of the Arab Spring and subsequent revolutions in other Arab states.


Mohamed Boazizi, a grocer, set himself on fire in protest when officials prevented him from selling and confiscated fruits and vegetables. He died shortly after.

Following that, hundreds of demonstrators flocked to the streets, and one of the first photographs posted on Facebook of protestors and police outside the government building will serve as proof of social media’s critical role in public life.

As a result, the first news to spread globally via social media was viewed as a precursor to the wave of protests.

Until the beginning of 2011, when Tunisia’s long-time president, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, was forced to step down, the streets of Tunisia were filled with violent protests.

Every day, there were alarming stories about clashes between demonstrators and police forces in the global media, which also served as information sources on social networks.

Tunisia’s position is unique in the Arab world, if only because the ruling dictatorship was deposed relatively fast, and the reforms and political opportunities obtained in a year presented Tunisia in a new light.

Tunisia is unique in that images, comments, opinions, and recordings from the streets have spread throughout the world, due to not only traditional media but also social networks and their users.


The Egyptian story differed in several respects. What was comparable were Hosni Mubarak’s autocratic rule and the wave of protests that began in the same way, following Tunisia’s lead, when an Egyptian set himself on fire in Cairo to protest the country’s dismal social and economic conditions.

A few days later, the streets were filled with protesters.

Protests in Cairo and other cities lasted 18 days. Social media users uploaded images, videos, and notes about the incident, sparking additional protests.

Egyptians were outraged in 2010 due to continued security concerns, a worsening economy, poverty, and high unemployment.

In Egypt, young people formed Facebook groups to encourage Egyptians to march to abolish corruption, revise the constitution, and generate new jobs.

Egyptian and Tunisian protesters used social media to increase the revolution’s activity and reach. Most citizens obtained their information from social media.

One activist in Cairo stated, “We use Facebook to schedule protests, Twitter to coordinate, and YouTube to inform the world.”

Egypt’s highest administrative body has ordered the suspension of internet and mobile services in some parts of the country.

It is worth noting, however, that the blockage of modern channels of communication prompted even more resistance, as people turned to traditional “door-to-door” campaigns to rally as much support as possible for the protests.

In addition to Tunisia and Egypt, several more nations have felt the effects of the Arab Spring on state stability.

Libya and Yemen have little Internet penetration and control, so social media’s impact on protests is limited. A huge wave of protestant discontent swept over Bahrain, Algeria, and Morocco.

Protests began in Syria in mid-March 2011, with some of the first social media reports showing conflicts between police and protestors in Damascus.

What should be remembered in the future is that regimes in nations whose governments were deposed using social media were unprepared for such events.

In countries where the Internet was not a key source of information, it swiftly became a valuable “weapon”.

The premise is that leaders acknowledge social media’s ability to impact public opinion. Social media now reflects a country’s internal dynamics.

As social networks expand, we will see the effects on people and society as a whole.

Social media and the unstoppable momentum of the Arab Spring

The Arab Spring represented a watershed moment in the use of technology for political activity.

Initially fueled by social media platforms, the protests revealed the potent role that digital tools could play in confronting entrenched authoritarian regimes throughout the Arab East.

Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube played important roles in the early stages of the Arab Spring.

They enabled demonstrators to organise demonstrations, share information about government abuses, and broadcast images and stories that major media sources either ignored or banned.

These internet tools had a significant influence, allowing for faster and larger-scale protest coordination than was previously feasible.

However, when the protests gained traction, many governments attempted to quell them by cutting off internet access and censoring social media websites.

Notably, Egypt’s authorities cut down internet connectivity for many days in an attempt to quash the rebellion. Despite these restrictions, the revolutions continued to spread, exhibiting a resilience that extended beyond digital communication.

This perseverance was fueled by a deep yearning for change.

When internet communication was cut off, people relied on more conventional techniques of organising and disseminating information, such as word of mouth, graffiti, and flyers.

Neighbours formed local committees to protect neighbourhoods and coordinate protests, demonstrating that while social media had lit the spark, the fire of revolution had grown into an inferno that no government crackdown could extinguish.

The impact of social media on the Arab Spring continues to influence global movements, imparting crucial lessons about the strength of connected citizens vs authoritarian regimes.

The Power of People: Communication Beyond the Internet in the Arab Spring.

The Arab Spring starkly illustrated the enduring power of personal contact and community cooperation, demonstrating that while technology can spark change, human determination frequently propels it forward.

This issue became notably evident when governments across the Arab East, terrified by the rapidity with which protests were organised via social media, shut down internet services in an effort to quash the uprisings.

However, the blocking of digital communication channels strengthened the demonstrators’ resolve.

It emphasised an essential historical lesson: when official avenues of communication are disrupted, individuals return to traditional, arguably more powerful modes of engagement.

Communities in Egypt, Libya, and Syria used mosques, community centres, and even neighbourhood gatherings to organise and plan their resistance during the most severe internet disruptions.

The lack of internet encouraged a return to face-to-face communication, strengthening local relationships among members and increasing the resilience of protest movements.

Furthermore, traditional communication networks were less vulnerable to government observation and control.

Despite their extensive monitoring measures, security agencies struggled to get access to extremely intimate and localised networks.

Once lit, word of mouth proven to be a highly elusive and dynamic tool capable of rapid adaptation and resistance to interception.

In many respects, personal communication produced a sense of unity and immediacy that digital communication did not, integrating the protests deeper into the social fabric of the communities.

The failure of government security forces to oversee these movements can also be linked to the sheer number and variety of communication techniques used once digital avenues were closed.

Because of the spontaneous and organic nature of these meetings, these institutions had a difficult time predicting or controlling protest activities.

Furthermore, the loyalty of security officers during such revolutionary surges is frequently questionable, with many opting to support demonstrators or remain neutral, complicating governmental control efforts.

To summarise, the Arab Spring highlights a fundamental insight: technology supports the transmission of revolutionary ideas, but the true impetus is sustained by human interaction and communal relationships, which, once mobilised, are extremely difficult to stop.

This post was written by Mario Bekes