The Arab Spring of 2011 was widely publicized as a movement created out of social media which allowed people to communicate both within the state and abroad. While social media did play a major role in shaping the revolutions it was not nearly as important as news sources made it appear in the overall outcome of some of the success stories such as Tunisia.
First, it is important to understand that in the case of revolution, many of these countries were under extremely oppressive rule that restricted communication among citizens and with the outside world. A key element in the success of the Arab Spring movement was the communication with the outside world and with media outlets. While some of this was done over social media the vast majority was done through bluetooth communication between cellphones. This passed information and videos from person to person until it could escape the boarder and reach a news outlet such as CNN or Al Jazeera.
The benefits that social media have provided in the case of these revolutions is that it is much easier for people to communicate and build organization. This allows people to organize protests and marches with much greater ease as well as disperse information to a greater audience much quicker than ever before. The remaining issue is that it is still very difficult to complete a revolution.
There are many challenges associated with successfully completing a revolution as evidenced by the disarray of the majority of revolutionary states in the Middle East and North Africa. The important takeaway is that social media plays a very important role in facilitating a discussion and organizing the origins of an uprising even if other factors limit the later stages of the revolution
The future will undoubtedly see many more revolutions rise out of a strong social media organization.