Talking to myself about foreign policy, US politics, technology, &c.

Facebook in the Kingdom

jeddah-fbSaudis outraged over the government response to devastating flooding in Jeddah are rioting in the streets.

OK, no, they aren’t. But they are protesting on Facebook.

Another example of how the opening of digital agora for conversation can have an impact; people are able to share their opinions, organize, and mobilize. Skills people learn and networks they develop will grow and expand over time.

This isn’t all negative for an authoritarian government; one of the problems with an ossified and autocratic bureaucracy which has little more than a nodding familiarity with its own subjects is that there are few routes for people to communicate problems.

Even indolent, corrupt groups like the Saudi royals want to be able to find out and fix problems; if things like FB provide a route for them to find out about the proverbial potholes then the people will be less likely to, say, overthrow them and string them up from a light pole.

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