Social Media in Tunisia

Penetration of Facebook

facebook penetration in Arab region, April 2011 (sorce; Dubai School of Government, Apr 2011)
Among social media outlets, the most influential and popular one in Tunisia is Facebook. In Tunisia, almost a quarter of nation has a Facebook account (much more significant than twitter penetration at only 0.34%). 
On the left chart, you can see comparison with neighbor countries. According to socialbakers, Tunisia's Facebook penetration among internet users is 74.5%. It is also higher than Egypt (49.56%) or Libya (22.84%.), even UAE(62.87%).

The 'Facebook Revolution': A Self-fulfilling Prophecy?

The right charts shows transition of demography of Facebook users from February to August 2011. You can tell that the Facebook population boosted after the revolution. It shows that the discourse of a 'Facebook Revolution' itself has become a sort of 'self-fulfilling prophecy'. According to Dubai School of Government, Jan 2011 the number of Facebook users in Tunisia was 1,768,200) in last November. Now it is2,615,540. Thus it increased almost 1 million in the past 10 months. This is about 10% of the Tunisian population.

1,768,200 (Nov, 2010)

          =2,615,540 (Aug, 2011)

Facebook and Mainstream Media

Tunisia's government has been known for its extreme crackdown on media access into the country. Facebook fan pages (including some of the most popular pages listed below) were a means of transmitting information to the outside world, and much of that information was broadcast back to Tunisian households via satellite TV stations, mainly French news outlets as well as Arabic outlets such as Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya. The mainstream media and Facebook had a direct feedback loop with information flowing in and out of the country visa vi mainstream and social media. The most interesting case of this interaction is the story of Bouazizi, our case study in this project.

While the flow of information was a necessary and important function of Facebook during the revolution, our group has concluded that because of 1) lack of central or premeditated planning or planners, 2) the privacy settings which characterize Facebook (as opposed to Twitter), and 3) the personal nature of Facebook connections and interactions, the main role of Facebook in the Tunisian Revolution was to serve as a space for the public expression of anger and aggrandizement of the state. This anger, contextualized and long-held, was sparked into action by the spread of the Bouazizi story via Facebook and mainstream media.