The media plays a role
The internet has played a huge role in the recent protests in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya for example. The size of the internet usage varies from country to country though but access to the internet has given protesters a common place to organize their gatherings and protests. It is for a reason the authorities decided to shut down or limit the internet access and that shows clearly the massive role which the internet plays on politics. The government, desperately trying to keep the situation under control and maintain the power, saw the internet as a thread to their political status.
The Egyptian government blocked various social media sites and mobile phone networks for a while before they blocked internet access entirely. Even though this act wasn’t successful, it shows what big of a role the internet has played and can play when used directly against a ruling government. Internet meetings are, in a way, “safer” than actual meetings, for protesters could discuss and plan their actions without having the danger of police braking up the meeting.
After the internet blockage, people turned to other media for information. Television stations covered the protests all day round and after the internet blockings, people started using other communication devices, such as their mobile phones, to communicate.
It is clear the internet plays a huge role in planning and organizing, but when the internet is no longer available, people turn to other media such as the broadcasting stations, mobile phones, etc. There was even talk of graffiti and writings on all kinds of things, such as coffee cups on the streets, after the internet was blocked in Egypt.
While all the other media formats are open, it is hardly enough to block the internet in order to monitor the citizens. At least the blocking came too late. People’s minds were already set when the government took measures.
In Libya, only about 6% of Libyans use the internet, compared to ¼ of the Egyptian people. Yet a massive protest has been taken place in Libya. The Libyan dictator has shut down the entire internet as well as banning all public broadcasting and media coverage of the events. When all the media is shut down, it first becomes difficult for people to maintain such protest. But given the history, it is possible to dethrone a ruling dictator or government without the mass media.