Gaddafi Targets Social Media Users

As the pressure increases on Muammar Gaddafi’s regime it seems the Libyan leader has turned his attention to blaming youths for spreading the revolution through social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

According to the Washington Times a number of Tripoli residents have reported that citizens have been arrested for posting messages on social networking sites:

“A resident of Tripoli who spoke on the condition of anonymity said his neighbor was arrested because he had been posting messages on the popular social networking sites. “The regime is erasing evidence of its atrocities,” he said, adding that it may be a long time, if ever, before the real toll of the regime’s crackdown is known. “Gaddafi is waging a campaign of revenge.””

Gaddafi’s grip of control on Libya appears to be slipping after the US publicly backed those uprising against Colonel Gadhafi. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made a statement on Sunday saying that the US is reaching out to “many different Libyans who are attempting to organize in the east and as the revolution moves westward there as well.” And that the US is “going to be ready and prepared to offer any kind of assistance that anyone wishes to have from the United States.” Adding that Gaddafi “must go as soon as possible without further bloodshed and violence.”

The “bloodshed and violence” has been devastating with at least 1,000 people believed to have been killed in two weeks of violence.

With the recent events in Tunisia, Egypt and now Libya we have seen the full force of the impact that social media can have in overthrowing a government. Social Media allows people to communicate on a global scale and make the world take notice of what is happening. Social media’s part in these revolutions has been unavoidable. If you search for “Libya” on Twitter today you can see the huge amount of activity discussing the events:

On the 2nd of February 2011 Sharon Waxman wrote an article titled How Egypt’s Social Media Revolution Could Spread Across the Middle East, in which Sharon describes how “Modern day communications are undoing what decades of repression wrought”.

Is this just the beginning of many more revolutions ignited by social media? We’ve now seen uprisings spread to northern Africa, so how will things develop from here? Will Syria or Jordan be next?

Many people argue that social media is the most important development in recent years. Bringing freedom of expression and communication to all those with internet access, which as we are finding out in Tripoli, can lead to devastating consequences. The next few days and weeks in Libya will help sculpt what is thought possible through social media.

We can only hope that the situation in Libya reaches a conclusion peaceably and quickly.

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