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Tunisia: The New Phase of Social Media

The use of social media has grown popular during the days of the Tunisian revolution in early January 2011. Many Tunisians joined Facebook to keep up with the news and join in the social media activism against the oppressive regime crackdown. Now, more than a year after the fall of the regime, Tunisians run thousands of Facebook pages; Politicians have also joined the social network to interact with millions of Tunisians in the fastest and most efficient way.

Facebook uses have increased among Tunisians. They serve as platform for associations, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and youth initiatives, to name a few.

The Tunisian Facebook page, Ateliers ouvert de blogging, for instance, promotes the culture of blogging among Tunisian internet users. It was created after the revolution and now boasts 371 members. Bloggers from different regions of Tunisian use the page to organize events, discussions and introduce new bloggers to meet with the experienced ones to share their blogging experience.

Culture for Citizenship is another page that encourages youth to take part of the democratic transition and promote the culture of citizenship among Tunisian youth.

The page describes the group as follows:

The goal of this non-profit organization is to promote human rights and active citizenship through cultural activities and events.

The Facebook page does a lot more such as promoting cultural events among youth. A recent project of the organization was an English-dubbed play of the deceased Tunisian author Mustapha Fersi.

Facebook is also hosts serious Tunisian NGOs. Tunisie Tolérence acts solely on Facebook and its website. The NGO has more than 8000 ‘likes’. Tunisie Tolerence administrators use their page to publish their press releases and organize events.

Another youth initiative that stood out since the revolution is Association Jeunes Liberté. The young association's first initiative was a clean up campaign in the capital Tunis, which attracted hundreds of volunteers to join the event. The organization has about 3,500 virtual adherents who take part of its different events and campaign across the entire country. The last initiative was to actually raise funds and collect donations for poor areas of Tunisia.

Wajdi Ben Saad, a youth activist and head of the association, says:

Facebook and social media gave us an unlimited access to people and to unlimited resources and ideas and suggestions.

Social media seems to help small NGOs and youth initiatives to reach out to more people and opportunities. It also has the necessary tools such as multimedia sharing systems that allow these Tunisian youth to share their experience and engage even more people around their vision.

Tunisian activists today grasp that Facebook is a faster way to communicate with others, share ideas and mobilize citizens for different events and causes.

Apart from Facebook, the internet is a host for many other Tunisian social media.Cahierdeliberte.org is an interface for Tunisian bloggers and non-bloggers alike to submit their articles and thoughts on the internet.

Fhimt.com is another citizen media project that publishes articles written by Tunisians. The name is inspired from Tunisian ex-president, Ben Ali, whose last words was fhimtcom (I understand you, people of Tunisia).The website offers news article as well as translations of other mainstream articles in order to inform Tunisians about the latest happenings across the globe. Topics usually deal with freedoms and open governance.

The internet is now more than just a platform to exchange rapid information in Tunisia. Facebook, blogs and citizen websites serve now to help Tunisians express their opinions freely.

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