- Laurier Institution
- Cute Cats and the Arab Spring: When Social Media Meet Social Change
Cute Cats and the Arab Spring: When Social Media Meet Social Change
Presented by the Laurier Institution in partnership with Yahoo!, UBC Continuing Studies and CBC
2011 Vancouver Human Rights Lecture
Activists around the world are turning to social media tools usually used for more pedestrian purposes: the sharing of family videos and videos of cats flushing toilets. But these tools can be extremely powerful in the hands of activists, as they are pervasive, easy to use and difficult for governments to censor. Zuckerman looks at “the cute cat theory” of internet activism, as it helps explain the Arab Spring protests, aggressive internet censorship in countries like China and Vietnam, and the challenges for the corporate owners of social media platforms in an era of online speech.
Ethan Zuckerman is director of the Center for Civic Media at MIT, and a principal research scientist at MIT’s Media Lab. His research focuses on the distribution of attention in mainstream and new media, the use of technology for international development, and the use of new media technologies by activists.With Rebecca MacKinnon, Ethan co-founded international blogging community Global Voices. Global Voices showcases news and opinions from citizen media in over 150 nations and thirty languages, publishing editions in twenty languages. Through Global Voices and through the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, where he served as a researcher and fellow for eight years, Ethan is active in efforts to promote freedom of expression and fight censorship in online spaces.