Social Media’s Influence on Lebanon

Lebanon is not only a regional center of media production but also the most liberal and free in the Arab world. It was one of the first countries in the Arabic-speaking world to introduce internet and Beirut’s newspapers were the first in the region to provide readers with web versions of their newspapers (Media of Lebanon, (n.d.), para. 2). In Lebanon, protest organizers have since day one been aware of the importance of media coverage, whether in its traditional or modern form.  Social media users generally hold positive views on its impact and potential for creating social change. Ultimately, social media is being seen and used as an agent of change.

Social Movement Organizations (SMOs) realize social media often help them attract mainstream media coverage, locally and internationally.  Women’s rights activists made significant progress in 2011 with the help of social media. To commemorate the 100th anniversary of Women’s Day, activists organized multiple events, advertising the events almost exclusively online, via Facebook, websites, blogs, and online forums. The cumulative effect, in combination with strategic litigation and advocacy, led to the implementation of tougher sentences for honor crimes  (Human Rights Watch) and the passing of a law on domestic violence in April 2014.

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Figure 1 Women’s Rights Activists

Similarly, Animals Lebanon campaigned in 2010 to shut down a circus accused of animal abuse. The group launched the campaign through Facebook, their email list and website. It succeeded in shutting down the circus for one month (Arwa Damon CNN. Nov.22,2010, last para.)  More importantly, the publicity surrounding the campaign garnered attention from local and international media and broad support from animal advocacy groups, leading to the first animals’ rights legislation in Lebanon.

animals-lebanon

Figure 2 Beirut Marathon Association

Social media and blogs offer a richer dialogue, where activists can act as mediators between the public and Lebanese officials.  Blogs make the idea of a dynamic network of ongoing debate, dialogue and commentary central and emphasize the interpretation and dissemination of alternative information to a heightened degree.  SMOs depend on social media to organize events internally, build coalitions, collaborate on initiatives, and strengthen relationships with supporters.

Lebanese SMOs credit recent achievements, at least in part, to increased exposure facilitated by social media. SMOs recognize digital media’s capacity to quickly and inexpensively reach broader and otherwise inaccessible audiences, and to effectively promote causes and increase visibility in local and international media.

How has social media influenced events in your country?

Is social media being used as an agent of change?

Facebook Promotional Post:

Social Media as an Agent of Change?
Exposure Facilitated by Social Media
http://bit.ly/2lgYKL8

 Twitter Promotional Post:

#AgentofChange     #SocialMediaLebanon
  http://bit.ly/2lgYKL8

Animals Lebanon. (n.d.).  http://bit.ly/2lt9E1p
Arwa Damon CNN.  (November 22, 2010).  Fighting for animal rights in Lebanon.
 http://cnn.it/2ke9J44
Human rights Watch. (n.d.) Lebanon: Law Reform Targets ‘Honor’ Crimes.
  http://bit.ly/2jrUfKI
Wikipedia the Free Encyclopedia. (n.d).  Media of Lebanon. Retrieved from
http://bit.ly/2lxVLLp
Wikipedia the Free Encyclopedia. (n.d). Social Movement Organization. Retrieved from http://bit.ly/2lzK7Ak
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4 thoughts on “Social Media’s Influence on Lebanon

  1. So much of what I’ve been reading about social media has focused on social media marketing but you make a great point that one of the great benefits on social media is its ability to thrust social movements to the fore in a way that was never before possible.

    In Canada, the Idle No More movement, which started in 2012 as a small political protest over proposed legislation that would erode both Indigenous sovereignty and environmental protections grew into a national discussion. This was achieved this using the hashtag #idlenomore.

    Not only did it grab the nation’s attention, it allowed many Indigenous, not just the chiefs who would traditionally speak on their behalf, to have their voices heard.

    Writing for CBC News in December 2014, Niigan Sinclair said that while the dances and marches had subsided, “there is more collective action led by indigenous grassroots peoples throughout Canada than ever before.”

    And this continues. The conversation has shifted. The populace and the politicians have been forced, by the voices raise and amplified by social media, to pay attention to the plight of the Indigenous peoples of their land.

    • Content shared on social media has increasing potential to be used as evidence of wartime atrocities and human rights violations.
      This capacity for social media to bring together disparate but like minded people is helping fight enormous challenges.

  2. I would say that we’ve definitely seen a rise in how social media is influencing events in Canada. We all see how President Trump speaks directly to the American people through Twitter, but we also see much more curated social media feeds from our own Prime Minister, and our government responds to the country’s social media trends. Social media is definitely used as a tool to bring people together and share our voices both online and in person, such as the Women’s march last month and the gatherings of solidarity across the country to support our Muslim community in the last month. What an interesting post! I’d love to hear more about Lebanon!

    • The Initiatives taken through Social Media, are changing the way we communicate, the way we are governed, and the way we live in society. It allows citizens to be the source of ideas, plans and initiatives in an easier way than ever before. If you’d like to hear more about Lebanon there’s the THE961.COM and STATEOFMIND13 Blogs that cover many of the issues Lebanese face.

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