A new report by the Committee to Protect Journalists found that today more bloggers are imprisoned than journalists from the mainstream media.
The bottom line is that many, many people in these countries, of course, can’t rely on state-run media, which is propaganda. Bloggers and blogging is a way of trying to express different views. So in every country I went to, except for Cuba, where the Internet is very underdeveloped, you have situations, people blogging about sex, about drugs, about gender issues, about politics. The majority of people in these countries don’t blog politically. They blog about their personal lives, about their boyfriends, their girlfriends. But there is increasingly, as that report states, many, many regimes who are fearful of the fact that you have independent voices, simply put.
Last week I attended the Alliance for Youth Movements Summit, which brought together independent voices and grassroots leaders from around the world. The program included a panel discussion on how to stay safe in repressive regimes like Egypt and Iran.
The presenters talked about various communications tools they use to stay secure such as using multiple SIM cards. Some also use avatars, which gives new meaning to the adage that on the Internet, no one knows you’re a dog.
Activists send text messages, and join Facebook and Twitter. They use the microblogging platform to plan demonstrations and tell their story. Bloggers in Mumbai, for instance, provided eyewitness accounts to the terrorist attacks and sent tweets to organize relief efforts.
Who knows, if the Internet had existed at the time, perhaps Hitler's criminal plot would not have succeeded - ridicule might have prevented it from ever seeing the light of day.
Back in the day, Gil Scott-Heron told us, “The revolution will not be televised.” In the YouTube era, the revolution will be online, where digital activists are posting the “first rough draft of history.”