Did Social Media cause the demise of the Tunisian government?
Did Social Media cause the demise of the reign of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt?
No; and Social Media is not causing the demise the reign of Mohammar Qaddafi in Libya, for that matter, either.
Protests in these countries were not caused by Social Media. The protests were created and caused by the existential conditions that exist within these countries by the actions of the leaders within those countries. If Tunisian President Ben-Ali had worked to establish suitable economic conditions in Tunisia, he would still be in power. If Hosni Mubarak had worked to create a suitable economic condition for jobs and employment in Egypt, he would still be in power. Likewise for Mohammar Qaddafi.
Facebook, Twitter, and SMS (simple messaging system – cellphone text messages) did help people organize. Social media did help expose circumstances and conditions that allowed people to see that throughout the region, people are being treated poorly. Not only are people being treated poorly but those in power are living lavish lives at the expense of millions of people.
While Social Media did not create the economic conditions, Social Media did help people organize and promote their discontent.
While thinking about this topic and the effects of social media & cellphone technology, my suspicious mind began to work out the details of how Social Media could be compromised for more nefarious actions.
What if, I thought, Twitter or Facebook were to be “spoofed.” Spoofing occurs when Internet traffic is directed away from a legitimate Web site to a less legitimate or illegal Web site, usually to infect computers with spyware or adware, or to gather sensitive information, like bank accounts or credit card numbers.
Could that happen?
Could a group of hackers configure a system that would direct Internet traffic towards a site. This Web site would then infect a computer with a Trojan. The trojan would then broadcast fictitious Twitter updates, or Facebook updates, or SMS messages to people. These fictitious messages would appear to be from real people, real friends, real “links,” and would encourage people to act, or meet, or to do “something.” Perhaps the “flash” mob behavior that attracts hundreds of people to sing a song, or dance, and then they all go their separate ways afterwards.
Perhaps a government could not be brought down in this way, but could technology be used in a nefarious way, such as this, to aggregate people for a task?