Cameroon’s President, Paul Biya, must have thought that the way to stop protests against the government was to ban Twitter, so that Cameroonians will not be able to use Twitter starting today. Let’s take a look at the countries where Twitter is currently banned: Cameroon, China, Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan and Libya.
I think we can generalize the six countries mentioned above within a certain framework. Authoritarian and repressive government, high security spending (UAE may be in a different position here) and low level of democratic rights. This list is even longer, but I wanted to reveal the similarities that emerged at first glance. There are several ways that governments can embody and diversify the pressure on individuals. While social media tools are coming up as one of the popular methods of action, the banning of sites like Facebook and Twitter is actually about it.
However, it is not possible to say that the Cameroon government will achieve exactly what it intended while banning Twitter. Cameroonian blogger Dibussi Tande According to the report many Cameroonians have been making action plans by e-mail and sms so far. In other words, Twitter was not a communication tool for activists until this ban. It seems that the audience who has access to the internet on this occasion will begin to make Twitter a part of their actions. Let us give additional information: The number of internet users in Cameroon is around 725,000.
On the other hand, I think governments are exaggerating the power of social media. Communication on Twitter or Facebook is surely faster and easier, but the reason for all these actions is not the presence of social media. So the masses did not decide to protest the governments after they discovered Twitter or Facebook. With the proliferation of social media and the Internet, the already existing ailments began to become more prominent and more voiced. But this change is not the cause of the main ailments, but the tool that facilitates its emergence.
To summarize, the issue that the revolting peoples make difference is not the use of social media, but their motivation and habits to come together. We have two different examples such as Egypt and Libya. Both used social media or their tools were banned, but both had different results. At least for now. 2011 seems to be a year in which we can observe in a concrete way how social media affects political life.