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Social media: a platform for ‘The Protester,’ TIME Person of the Year

TIME magazine announced its person of the year: The Protester.

This is hardly surprising since protesters have been making headlines across the world with a message for change. Since TIME magazine’s announcement “#TheProtester” and “#PersonOfTheYear” have been trending topics on Twitter.

It all started in Tunisia almost exactly a year ago when 26-year-old street vendor, Mohamed Bouazizi, set himself ablaze after years of abuse from authorities. This incident became a pivotal point in the Arab Spring protests against the Tunisian dictator’s power.

That flame of protest spread to other nations including Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, and Syria, where the uprisings continue and civil war has, at times, loomed.

Protests, of course, also flared up in developed nations. Regardless of the cause, a domino effect started to take place around the world with protests popping up in major cities. Most recently Occupy Wall Street has sparked similar Occupy protests in the UK, Europe, and elsewhere.

Whether in a square in Cairo or a park in New York, there has been one thing that has connected all these protests. The Protester has been active on social media platforms as a means of getting their message out to the masses.

The Arab Spring and Occupy stories have been some of the top trends on Twitter and there are various Facebook groups with thousands of fans and members.

It is said that nearly 9 in 10 Egyptians and Tunisians used social media to organise protests and spread awareness. At the height of the Arab Spring, Facebook popularity in countries like Tunisia, Egypt and Bahrain increased and the #Egypt hashtag had 1.4-million mentions in the first quarter of the year. #Jan25 became a symbol for pro-democracy movements in Egypt. In only two months since it began, #Occupy Wall Street received 3.5 million social media mentions.

Image: PaulS

Author | Talita Calitz

Talita Calitz
Talita studied Journalism and Visual Communication at the University of Pretoria. Travelled a bit, worked here and there and now resides in Cape Town where she’s the Communications Manager for BOS Brands (BOS Ice Tea). More
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