Saturday, February 19, 2011

Mobile phones leading protests and Middle East and North Africa

The cell phones turned out to be a powerful tool used by protesters against their governments. It was proved these days in Bahrain where demonstrators confronting the heavily armoured police in Manama’s Pearl Square used the gadgets of the tiny devices for protection.  The phone cameras were employed to picture, record footages and upload them to Webpages like YouTube, Facebook, yFrog and Twitter reflecting thus the real happenings. These actions put the governments into a sensitive situation as the info spreads quickly and catches the worldwide attention to people’s demands. Practically the cell phone became a vital tool to connect to the world. The initial reaction of the countries rulers and their governments is to shut down the internet or to limit the phone coverage in specific areas but it looked like this was not enough. It was demonstrated in Egypt. “A video gadget which fits into the palm of a person can film everything and the footage can get around the world within seconds”. The information is used by human rights organizations and activists as well as the global news broadcasters. In conclusion the cell phones represent the knives to the throat of many autocratic regimes in North Africa and Middle East. A first example was proved in Tunisia where long time president Ben Ali was ousted: phone camera stores the revolt and the uploaded scenes determine important broadcasters, satellite TV news networks to focus their attention on the conflict. But the mobile images are used also by the protesters to coordinate their deeds. Bahrain authorities shut down Bambuser, a Swedish based live streaming company but that is not the only website in the field. The next target is probably to enhance the video resolution of the filming devices as the demand for breaking real time news is continuously increasing.


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