In the Arab world, impact of online media "has not always been positive."

Posted: 26 Sep 2010   Print   Send a link
Palestine News Network, 21 Sept 2010, Daoud Kuttab: "Until the mid-1990s, radio and television stations that Arabs were able to follow were mostly government owned. With the exception of international radio stations such as BBC, Voice of America and Monte Carlo radio, hundreds of millions of Arabs were forced to hear and see protocol news of their presidents and kings leading and dominating newscasts. ... The [later] success of media entrepreneurs in using the Internet to circumvent government controls was not without a strong governmental response in most Arab countries. While some countries applied strict proxy restrictions banning locally produced content from being seen by the country’s citizens, or carried out brutal crackdown actions, the majority of the Arab regimes decided to join the revolution. When it became clear that they couldn’t totally stop many alternative websites, Arab governments decided to either co-opt existing sites or create their own sites camouflaged as independent sites. ... Oppressive governments also used a number of other ways to clamp down on alternative media. Bloggers and media owners faced various bureaucratic problems that included travel bans, imprisonment and in some cases physical punishment."

ABC News, The MidEast Memo, 22 Sept 2010, Lara Setrakian: "What’s happening online is a catalyst, not a revolution. It’s a first alert for human rights groups monitoring Arab countries from thousands of miles away, and a prompt for greater accountability from governments. ... ‘The question isn't, 'How many regimes have social media overthrown,' because the obvious answer is "None,"' columnist Mona Eltahawy told VOA. 'The question should be…how are social media enabling those most marginalized groups in the Middle East to mature and go into the realization that their opinions count and that they have the ability to bring about change in a region that is largely run by dictators?'"