Study: Social media may hinder, not help, budding revolutions

Shutting down digital communications in the midst of an uprising, writes Navin Hassanpour, only accelerates civil unrest. And this, he says, is exactly what happened to Hosni Mubarak’s regime. Do the opposite — keep mass media intact, though disruptively slow — and disaffected people are less likely to mobilize in public…

“Social media can … discourage face-to-face communication and mass presence in the streets,” writes Hassanpour, a political science graduate student raised in Iran. “Knowing about the situation on Facebook and Twitter and having access to news propagation sources may make personal moves and physical presence unnecessary.”

In other words, revolutionaries will use social media to promote revolutions, but ordinary people might find the information confusing, particularly among a deluge of other information.