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"Exponentially Yours: How Facebook Has Destabilized Arab Potentates"

Thousands of demonstrators with various signs, including at right "Separation of Powers" and at left "Power to People" during a protest denouncing corruption and demanding better civil rights and a new constitution in Casablanca, Morocco, Mar. 20, 2011,
AP Photo

"Exponentially Yours: How Facebook Has Destabilized Arab Potentates"

Op-Ed, The Huffington Post

March 24, 2011

Author: Charles G. Cogan, Associate, International Security Program

Belfer Center Programs or Projects: International Security


Did they think it would all go unnoticed? The antics of one of Qadhafi's sons beating up a maid in Switzerland, or another son dishing out a wad of cash so that Beyoncé could sing for him on a Caribbean Island? Or the in-laws of Ben Ali staging an over-the-top party in the seaside resort of Hammamet, featuring a tiger in a cage? Or the gift of a historic necklace to Suzanne Mubarak, the wife of the now former president, by Egypt's Minister of Antiquities?

If there is one leitmotif behind all the street effervescence in North Africa and the Middle East that has become known as the "Arab Spring," it is the widespread perception of corrupt practices by Arab rulers, spread exponentially through social networks.It is the propagation of these stories that has become too much. Also, it is not just a sense of personal humiliation felt by those, many of whom have degrees, who cannot get jobs, but a sense of national humiliation, felt particularly in Egypt, a country of more than 80 million people that has not played much of a role internationally for 30 years under the autocratic rule of the man who was sometimes referred to as "la vache qui rit."

Even Morocco, protected to a degree by the aura of a monarchy that claims descent from the Prophet, has not been spared....

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For Academic Citation:

Cogan, Charles G. "Exponentially Yours: How Facebook Has Destabilized Arab Potentates." The Huffington Post, March 24, 2011.

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