Facebook and Twitter are not a game

By Abdeslam Baraka

, by ALAI

Facebook is not a game. It is a means of communication that transcends borders, but does not supplant national or international legality concerning civil liberties and rights of association and expression. Choosing such means to spread one’s message, is and will be useful and effective, if the message stands by certain principles and rules of law.
Before Facebook and Twitter and other forms of social media communications, there was radio, which revolutionized the methods of communication with the masses and, later on, there was television and live images which attracted the public’s interest. Due to the circumstances of that period of time, these media were mainly used as propaganda tools, in order to influence populations by governments as well as organizations with technical and financial capabilities. Today, thanks to the great media revolution, the power of individual communication may be via mobile, SMS and other networking technologies, including audio-visual messaging, almost at no cost. All one needs is a computer or a smarthphone in order to integrate into a globalized world where they can broadcast and share their message, create one’s own group or even a movement.

It is premature to judge this situation one way or another, but obviously it raises very serious questions about the future of the classical democratic rules, which have prevailed so far. The most striking is the fact that we ignore the authority to which these social networks respond to, their "editorial line" and especially how to override some individual or collective rights in the case of manipulation or injures. Existing international laws seems to obviously have been overtaken by the new technologies; national laws even more so.

In spain, we still recall the impact of the famous "pass it on" sms. Moreover, the sympathy towards the Rose revolution in Georgia, was cheered by Western television. Likewise, the Orange movement in the Ukraine benefited from the same media coverage. The freedom and power of the people were always the slogans for these protests and sometimes riots that were, more or less, spontaneous. Years later, things seem to not have changed substantially for those people who rebelled against a given situation. I do not intend with this to remove any legitimacy from the popular upheavals, quite the contrary, but yes, I do point to the risk of diversion from legitimate popular sentiments by a system that does not hesitate to dress up and adapt in order to maintain power, regardless of the circumstances.

Lately, we have witnessed the revolution of Jasmine in Tunisia. Currently, attention is captured by the "Facebook generation" movement in Egypt, that does note quite succeed and it runs the risk of unpredictable international repercussions. These movements and others deserve respect and consideration but we cannot abstain from making analogies with previous movements that eventually returned to the same prevailing unjust system that suffers from the same type of Western influence: A wild ultra-liberal economic system, which hogs the workforce, creativity and progress for the benefit of mercantilist and opportunistic minority, usually very close to political power.
I still believe in a liberalism that provides the same opportunities to all and were the state may still have social and regulatory functions. But in no way can I accept that liberalism, an essential companion to democracy, becomes a tool to scam working people who are the sole producers of wealth.

It is time that new technologies serve to raise awareness among people. Now, we can use the same means as the manipulators to immunize against political and strategic scams of the dominant powers. If we are facing a conspiracy of speculators and leeches who have no feelings or consciousness, Facebook and Twitter may also serve the cause of the disadvantaged.

Today, it seems that the West stands, with reason, for the freedom of these new mass media and social networking technologies. Let’s see if in the near future they will continue with the same determination when the rebellion against an unjust global system and mass impoverishment appears in the Western world. In the meantime, the southern Mediterranean shore, widely supports all and any means of communication and expression.

(Translated by Abderrahim Loh)