The grim side of Tunisia's Facebook 'revolution'

By Lilia Blaise

Facebook has become one of the foremost media in Tunisia, an alternative to controlled official information; it played an important a role in the 2010 uprising that led to the Arab Spring. But while it remains a tool for mobilising people, it is also now used for the more mundane and trivial, including trolling, rumours and rants. More disturbingly, Facebook has also been be turned against human rights activists, who are sometimes treated by the authorities in the same way as apologists for terrorism. Lilia Blaise reports.

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Hammadi Khlifi was there at the birth of the Arab Spring. On December 18th, 2010, he watched the first videos of clashes between the police and locals in his home town of Sidi Bouzid in central Tunisia. It was the day after Mohamed Bouazizi, a Sidi Bouzid street vendor, had set himself on fire, a protest against harassment that triggered the Tunisian Revolution and uprisings in other Arab states.