Cal State Fullerton professor explains how social media stoked the embers of political revolution in talk at Pollak Library

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(Gabe Gandara / Daily Titan)

The use of social media in political revolutions became the topic of faculty discourse in the Pollak Library on Monday.

Anthony Fellow, a Cal State Fullerton communications professor, gave a talk based on his book “Tweeting to Freedom: An Encyclopedia of Citizen Protests and Uprisings Around the World.”

Fellow highlighted revolutions like the Arab Spring and how social media was vital in provoking changes from governments.

Egypt saw public tumult in 2011 when a young Egyptian man named Khaled Said died following a violent encounter with police. Photos of his barely-recognizable face were leaked on Facebook.

The leak sparked a Facebook campaign called “We are all Khaled Said,” which urged people to take action to change their government. This incident contributed to protests in Cairo that resulted in the resignation of Egypt’s president, Hosni Mubarak.

“Egypt was basically the catalyst for this social media revolution,” Fellow said.

The professor said India is one of the top social media-heavy countries in the world. Twitter was a driving force when Indians wanted to revolutionize women’s rights after the 2012 New Delhi gang rape of Jyoti Singh Pandey.

A YouTube video published of Iraqi, Abu Azrael became a symbol for the Shi’ites struggles, Fellow said.

“He has become a hero in Iraq, which needed heroes, especially for the young people,” Fellow said.

He attributed the rising use of social media activism in Mexico to Maná, a Mexican band that encouraged their listeners to protest against the government.

However, Fellow said it can be dangerous for people to be outspoken against the Mexican government due to retaliation from the drug cartel.

Fellow then introduced North Korea, whose people are largely restricted from internet access.

The lack of social media presence in North Korea has prevented the people from creating public political dissent as seen in Egypt.

“You need a community to have a revolution,” Fellow said.

The final portion of his talk focused on the dangers of journalists in countries like the Philippines and Mexico.

“It’s definitely scary to know that over 1,000 journalists have been killed, but it also shows how powerful journalists can be,” said communications major Tyler Nelson.

Fellow’s talk brought awareness to how social media can be used as a tool to start revolutions as well as giving other professors more topics to teach in class.

The Faculty Noon Time Talks series has scheduled dozens of 30 to 40-minute presentations by faculty presenting their research from February to May, as part of the Pollak Library’s goal of “facilitating intellectual engagement across campus,” according to its website.

The next scheduled presentation, “Bilingual Latino Teachers in Schools: Experiences of Language Shame and Loss,” will be held on Tuesday by associate professor of elementary and bilingual education Lisa Winstead, Ph.D., from noon to 1 p.m.

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