The MNLA, Social Media, and the Malian Civil War
Chapter 4: A Comparative Look at the MNLA’s Use of Social Media
[S]ocial media have become coordinating tools for nearly all of the world’s political movements …
—Clay Shirky, January 20111
WHILE THE MNLA was the first armed northern Malian political movement to make broad use of social media, it is far from the only political movement to use social media to challenge the local, national, or international status quo. This chapter outlines similarities and differences between the MNLA’s use of social media, especially Facebook, and the use of social media by two near-contemporary movements that have attracted far more scholarly attention: the 2011 Egyptian Arab Spring protesters and the Islamic State.
What happened in Egypt in January and February 2011 is, in general terms, well known. January 25, 2011, was National Police Day in Egypt, a public holiday intended to honor security forces. That day, though, Egyptian activists planned a protest in the streets of Cairo against police brutality. Tens of thousands of people turned out to protest, far in excess of the organizers’ expectations. The Egyptian ←79 | 80→government responded with its usual method of dealing with protesters: crackdowns and mass arrests. Over the next few days, though, the protests grew even larger, overwhelming the security forces. On January 27, the government attempted to shut down Internet in the country, and the next day, the military was deployed to the streets. On February 1, as protests swelled still further, President Hosni Mubarak, who had been in office since 1981, announced he would not seek...
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