I just came across this news report on the BBC website regarding Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal investing $300 million in Twitter. This is the same Saudi Prince who has shares in News Corporation and a host of other countries. It might not mean anything, BUT, there is always the possibility that this investment could somehow curb the use of Twitter in the future when it comes to something like what happened in Iran in 2009.
To refresh your memory of those events in Iran, there was a Green revolution of sorts (it was never clear whether these people were more Islamist than the Mullahs or not), and when the Presidential results were announced a large number of people went wild because they knew that they had voted for Mousavi and Kharoubi rather than vote for Ahmahnutjob. Young and old people took to the streets and to the rooftops. There was a repeat of 1979 but with a twist because this time the people did not win. They were crushed by a brutal regime that is far worse than that of the former Shah.
During that period of protests the young people who came from the universities took to using Twitter as a means of communicating with the outside world. Twitter managed to stay open for these people to get out their message about what was happening inside of Iran. The regime was not able to completely shut them down.
The Arab Spring was not spontaneous even though the LSM would like us to believe it was spontaneous. The immolation of a young Tunisian was the spark and it was the only thing that was spontaneous because the opposition groups in Tunisia had already been planning their moves to oust Ben Ali. They used Facebook and Twitter to execute their opposition protests. It worked in Tunisia. This is also true with Egypt, Yemen, Jordan, Libya, Bahrain, Syria and Morocco. The opposition parties have been well organized in their planning.
One part of the plan which was executed in both Egypt and Libya was the method by which the actions against the protesters brought in others who had not been as supportive of the movement. This was obvious with the Tahrir Square protests, because as soon as the army responded more and more people joined in the protests. It was all planned. On the other hand, in Libya there was some organization, but I am not certain that the movement was as well organized as in Egypt. This is despite the fact that people behaved in the same way. As soon as Gadhafi brought in the mercenaries to fire upon those who were protesting, people who did not agree with the originators of the protest joined in the daily processions of funerals for the victims of Gadhafi oppression. This is what happened in Benghazi. The crowds got bigger every day. There must have been some organization because protests also broke out in Misrata, Tripoli, Zintan and a number of other cities.
In those early days in Libya the government spy network meant that people using their mobile phones to try and get out messages were caught and ended up in prison. At least two of those detained were Australian citizens. They had been caught using their mobile phones. It was thanks to the diplomatic efforts of the Turkish Embassy that these individuals were freed from prison. This shows how dangerous it was to try and communicate with the outside world. Yet, the citizens of Tripoli in the long run managed to communicate with other Libyans as well as with NATO forces. They managed to capture and rig up their satellite communications, and they took enormous risks in guiding the NATO forces to the spots where there were weapons dumps in Tripoli and elsewhere.
In pointing this out, I am still wondering why the Saudi businessman aquired this interest in Twitter. My real question is: will this interest in Twitter have any effect in the future with regard to how Twitter is used in the Middle East by dissidents? Could this stifle dissidents in Saudi Arabia?