Has Social Media Become an instigator for Civil Disobedience?

30 Oct

Over the years, Social Media has been causing a shift from physical human interaction to a digital interaction. We find ourselves reconnecting with friends and family members online, we read newspapers online, we do homework online and some of us even watch TV online. The list of things we have replaced with the use of the internet and social media goes on and on. One of the things that has been giving a lot to talk about and that has had a strong effect on political change has been the relationship between civil disobedience and social media. Civil disobedience is when an individual or a group of individuals refuse to comply with certain laws or to pay taxes and fines, as a peaceful form of political protest. Civil disobedience is usually defined as a non-violent resistance. Many claim that social media is instigating civil disobedience, I on the other hand believe that social media is simply helping raise awareness against certain issues of the world. What’s so wrong about that? People need to know what is going on in different parts of the world.


People have taken a different approach on civil disobedience now than they did then. It use to be that people would engage in certain acts of disobedience and somehow they ended up on the news or the newspaper. Now a day, a lot of it takes place online. Some people argue that social media has been the root to many protests and civil disobedient actions. “The role of social media in protests and revolutions has garnered considerable media attention in recent years. Current conventional wisdom has it that social networks have made regime change easier to organize and execute.” (Marco Papic, Sean Noonan) The article Social Media as a Toolfor Protest claims that Social media alone, however, does not instigate revolutions. “They are no more responsible for the recent unrest in Tunisia and Egypt than cassette-tape recordings of Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini speeches were responsible for the 1979 revolution in Iran.” (Marco Papic, Sean Noonan) The authors are referring to effect of media on the conflict over religion and identity risks that has been ongoing in Egypt and Tunisia and the effect of cassette-tape recordings and the Iran Revolution. They are trying to say that Social media is not responsible for outbursts of revolutions and protests thus it has been around since before social media.Civil Disobedience has been around for centuries, Social Media hasn’t been around for nearly as long.


“Social media are tools that allow revolutionary groups to lower the costs of participation, organization, recruitment and training. But like any tool, social media have inherent weaknesses and strengths, and their effectiveness depends on how effectively leaders use them and how accessible they are to people who know how to use them.” (Marco Papic, Sean Noonan) I strongly believe that social media has not been the cause of civil disobedience in recent years, these things have been going on for as long as we can remember, the difference is that thanks to Social Media sites those who are passionate about issues are taking a stance by blogging, posting pictures and videos online and simply sharing with the world how they feel. People now have the opportunity to express their freedom of speech and liberate themselves from what they believe are injustices.  Social media has simply made it easier to raise awareness. Social media is somewhat more of an enabler than an instigator.


One of the issues that have resulted in the spreading of awareness is the U.S government’s infiltration of social media. Many of us are aware that government officials are monitoring our cell phones and our online activities. The reason being not only to crack down on those who are doing illegal things, but the government has had it out for activists. The video presented bellow briefly talks about the effect of social media and activism and the approach the government has taken on the subject.

Do you think Social Media is in fact the cause or the instigator for the reoccurring protests around the world? How do you feel about the government’s reaction to activist and people who are spreading the word about social injustice through the media?

Sources used:

Papic, Marko , and Sean Noonan. “Social Media as a Tool for Protest.” Stratfor. N.p., 3 Feb. 2011. Web. 25 Oct. 2013. <http://www.stratfor.com/weekly/20110202-social-media-tool-protest&gt;.
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3 Responses to “Has Social Media Become an instigator for Civil Disobedience?”

  1. hpresley October 30, 2013 at 2:28 pm #

    I agree with you when you say that social media is not being an instigator when it comes to civil disobedience. I think that it is more of an enabler for civil disobedience because nowadays, people are reaching out through social media outlets. It is helping them get their messages across in a public way without breaking any real laws because they do have freedom of speech. Social networks had made it easier for people to reach bigger audiences and have their voices heard because sites like Facebook are being watched so things are getting out there more. Also, you said that the act of civil disobedience has not been encouraged more by social media but it has made it easier for people to get their voices heard. I agree with your point about the government having it out for activists as well because if activists are not caught then they can cause a revolution and then the government won’t know what to do with them. They will get their message across somehow and since social media has made it easier for them to do that then I’m pretty sure that the government would want to know what is going on from the beginning so they can try to stop things from escalating.

    • myersandrea16 November 1, 2013 at 1:29 am #

      I agree with this article in so many ways because you made so many great points. On the other hand, I think social media has become a place where people are instigating along with informing individuals about certain topics, but when it get to the point where people try to threaten other people or cause people to feel lonely and commit suicide this is when we should draw the line.

  2. bradty0034 November 3, 2013 at 9:02 pm #

    I agree with this article in many ways more than one. Some of the examples such as the incidents that occurred in Egypt, Iran are as familiar with me since i wrote about them as well but it is nice to see someone Else’s viewpoint on them and how they interpret and write about it.

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