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Blogs and Bullets II: New Media and Conflict after the Arab Spring

Blogs and Bullets II



In this report from the USIP’s Centers of Innovation for Science, Technology, and Peacebuilding, and Media, Conflict, and Peacebuilding, a team of scholars from George Washington University and American University analyze the role of social media in the Arab Spring protests of 2011–12. It builds on a previous report, published in 2010 by USIP Press, titled Blogs and Bullets: New Media in Contentious Politics, and applies its five-level framework for studying and understanding the role of new media in political movements. The authors utilize a unique dataset from, the URL shortener commonly associated with Twitter and used by other digital media such as Facebook. With these data, the authors are able to test empirically the claims of “cyberoptimists” and “cyberskeptics” about the role of new media in bringing down autocratic regimes in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya and in spurring protests in other parts of the Arab World, such as Bahrain.


  • Sean Aday, director of IPDGC, associate professor of media and public affairs, GW
  • Henry Farrell, associate professor of political science, GW
  • Marc Lynch, associate professor of political science and international affairs, GW
  • John Sides, associate professor of political science, GW
  • Deen Freelon, assistant professor of communication, American University

Blogs-and-bullets-II-arab-spring is free for download.

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Groundtruth: New Media, Technology and the Syria Crisis

October 2, 2012

User-generated images, videos, and stories stream in every day from Homs, Aleppo and all around Syria documenting the country's descent into violence and instability. In this partnership event with the United States Institute of Peace, panelists provided analysis and insight into the influence of new media in the crisis, specifically on three types of actors: activists on the ground, journalists and media-makers who are reporting on the crisis, and policymakers around the world. The event also brought together experts from each group together to discuss not only social media's role in ongoing events but how it can be used to promote peace in a post-Assad future.

The event had the following panels and speakers:

Panel 1: Activists and the Regime
  • Rami Nakhla, The Day After Project
  • Ahed Al Hendi,
  • Hadeel Kouki, Syrian activist
  • Rafif Jouejati, Free Syria Foundation
  • Schadi Semnani, Syria Conflict Monitor
  • Moderator: Marc Lynch, George Washington University 
Panel 2: Reporting the Crisis
  • Deborah Amos, National Public Radio
  • Robert Mackey, New York Times
  • Lara Setrakian, ABC News
  • Fadl al Tarzi, SocialEyez, Dubai News Group (via Skype)
  • Moderator: Sean Aday, George Washington University
Panel 3: Policymakers at Home and Abroad
  • Mohammad Al Abdallah, Syria Justice and Accountability Center
  • Susan Wolfinbarger, American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • Steve Heydemann, USIP
  • Mounir Ibrahim, U.S. Department of State
  • Aaron Zelin, Washington Institute for Near East Policy
  • Joe Holliday, Institute for the Study of War
  • Moderator: Sheldon Himelfarb, USIP

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