Social Media's Revolution 2.0 Crowdsources Street Protests & DDOS Attacks
First coined by the Egyptian Google marketing manager Wael Ghonim, the term "Revolution 2.0" is used to describe the new grass-roots strategies and tactics used by protesters initially in Egypt - but that which became pervasive throughout the entire Middle East Region. In fighting against despotic rule, people were demanding democracy, regime change and a voice in their respective governments. Revolution 2.0 points to freedom of expression that people are able to secure globally through their social networks and the Internet at large.
The power of the online connection has proven so successful in rallying the already restless populace throughout the entire Middle East - including tha states of Algeria, Tunisia and Yemen - that governments have stepped in to curtail usage. Taking the lead of dictatorships that were limiting online access after the recent overthrow of Egypt's government, Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi followed suit in targeting the shut-down of Facebook, Twitter and even major Arabic new networks such as Al-Jazeera.
In Bahrain, New York Times reporter and two-time Pulitzer winner, Nicolas Kristof was empathetic on Twitter, as he feared that the government was close to prohibiting his means to communicate. He was especially impresed by the courage and the emotional contagion emanating from the pro-democracy protesters demonstrating in the Pearl Roundabout.
While street protests are the obvious offline option, how can the Middle Eastern people combat the opposition online? In Iran, there may be a model emerging that neighboring countries may be able to emulate. The idea is to conduct pre-emptive strikes against the government before they use their individual "kill switches" to turn off the Internet.
Anonymous and its "Operation: Iran" is a collective providing users with special advice forums and tools to fight the Iranian government's censorship. The anti-government movement has also encouraged Iranian citizens to use DDOS (distributed-denial-of-service) attacks in an effort to take down key government Web sites like Khamenei.ir, the Web site of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, as well as leader.ir and president.ir.
Similar to other underground organizations, its difficult to put a label on Anonymous, which lacks leaders, has no headquarters and was a grass-roots organization that grew out of image-sharing forums in the United States. A participant using the screen name "arash" is a hacker who is working with Anonymous to fight government censorship and cypbercontrol in his native country of Iran
He describes this aspect of Revolution 2.0 as a "fluid movement" and in this YouTube video created by the group, he depicts violent scenes of revolt against government oppression, while a digitally-modified narrator details Anonymous' mission:
Anonymous is the same hacktivist group that successfully disrupted a number of Web sites in support of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in a separate operation called "Operation Payback" (see more on this topic at "Social Media Payback Can Be A Bitch Sometimes.")
As history plays out its next steps in the Middle East, like social media and Web 2.0, Revolution 2.0 will continue to evolve with new layers of direction, insight, strategies and operational tactics added by its participants. It's a crowd-sourced operation being played out on a global stage.
Wael Ghoni was quoted in a recent 60 Minutes interview with Harry Smith stating: "I call this Revolution 2.0" because it is like "Wikipedia… where everyone is contributing content" and adding to the dialogue anonymously. "Everyone was contributing small pieces, bits and pieces. We drew this whole picture. We drew this whole picture of a revolution, and — no one is the hero in that picture," he added.