IJMA3: Could the Price of Freedom in Cairo and Tunis be the very Existence of Facebook?

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Nizar Zakka, the Secretary General of IJMA3 - The Arab ICT Organization, urges the development of protective measures for social media users

In a statement, Nizar Zakka, the Secretary General of IJMA3, The Arab ICT Organization, urges the development of protective measures for social media users:

"Social media had demonstrated its potential, on the streets of Tehran, Cairo and elsewhere, to serve as an agent for change and virtuous development. However, as its power becomes more apparent, the desire of governments to use this very tool of free expression to suppress dissent increases accordingly. These days, social media is also being used in order to monitor, track, and ultimately muzzle the very activists whose activities it most supports.

"If social media platforms can no longer be used as a platform for free expression, if this tool is turned around to monitor and oppress, then one of the most powerful channels of free speech and dissent will have been effectively muzzled. Should Facebook end up a dangerous place to visit due to the unseen traps lurking inside of it, users will lose trust in it, will limit their use, and will seek out platforms for free expression elsewhere. This would signal the end of the Facebook era.

"Unless Facebook and its compatriots get serious about protecting data privacy, and signal to their user communities that the information entrusted to their networks is safe and secure, social media users in critical areas like the Middle East will seek out alternative methods of communication, and avoid platforms that might put their safety and security at risk. Social media has transformed the pathways for dissent. However, the process has only gone so far. Now, the very people that Facebook has been so effective in bringing down, the world’s corrupt and brutal tyrants, are fighting back, and are using social media for their own purposes. Unless we come together to affirm the status of social media, responding to the information it generates, and protecting those who share critical information within it, the entire system will be compromised.

"I would urge all who value the power of free and open communication to take the threat of the stifling of social media seriously, and collectively devise appropriate solutions."

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Nizar Zakka
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