In this information age, with all the social media we have in its various forms available at our fingertips, the impact of any natural disaster, war or movement is naturally heightened with the event feeling more local. The Syrian government opened attack on its own citizens in Homs and like the other protests in the ongoing Arab Spring, citizens not only of Syria but around the world took to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social media streams to display the attack. For instance, NPR Senior Strategist, Andrew Carvin and Saudi blogger and NPR social media PA Ahmed Al Omran are not only tweeting from their own accounts @acarvin and @ahmed but also retweeting journalists, activists and more people from the ground itself, using #Syria as a hashtag. Anonymous announced via Twitter that to show solidarity with the Syrian people, they will take down two Syrian government websites, one of which is the Presidency site. They later retracted their DDoS attack on Syrian IPs, saying that citizens have limited bandwidth and they need to be allowed to continue to post information. They also said taking a site down in an already oppressive regime is unhelpful. YouTube videos are being uploaded constantly and one of the more prolific ones is embedded below (please use discretion, there is graphic material in this video).
A very driving-the-point-home use of technology and social media in this attack comes from Alexander Page, a blogger and activist. As the Syrian government began attack on protestors for democracy, Syrians and other nationals flocked to Syrian embassies and consulates around the world. Page was at the Syrian embassy in Cairo where protestors were gathered to decry the attacks waged by the Syrian government on its citizens. Page is using his smartphone to not only record what's going on at the embassy in Cairo but also livestream it on uStream. To watch the current livestream as well as the previous livestreams Page recorded in Cairo, click here. The protest outside the Syrian embassy in Washington, DC is also being livestreamed on Ustream. Additionally, there is a Google Doc making the rounds on protests going on at Syrian embassies around the world.
Aside from the Arab Spring, another major event where social media was used heavily to coordinate rebellions was the London Riots that took place in August last year. RIM's BBM service was used extensively to coordinate attacks, and the UK government worked with RIM as well as Facebook to temporarily shut down services while they worked on gaining control of the situation. Here at home, social media, particularly Facebook and Twitter as well as RockeTalk were used during Anna Hazare's protests and hunger strikes, pushing for the Lokpal Bill to pass. The internet hasn't been cut off in Syria yet and there is a high possibility that the regime might cut off service to stop citizens from posting information, but Anonymous has provided a solution for that scenario.