The Other Facebook Revolution

How the Internet Makes People Unhappy With Their Governments

People use computers at an Internet cafe in Changzhi, north China's Shanxi province June 20, 2007.

These days, every time a large political demonstration takes place somewhere in the world, it seems to set off a discussion of the Internet's role in facilitating it, whether by allowing protesters to rally support from both domestic and international sources, report developments from the ground, communicate their demands to government leaders, or document police abuses. What tends to be overlooked, however, is the Internet's other role in political movements of this sort—that is, its effects before protestors ever take to the streets. The Internet has quietly but profoundly shifted citizens’ desire to act or organize politically in the first place by influencing their perceptions of their government’s performance.

The Internet, together with related technologies, has been revolutionary for information distribution. It has drastically and rapidly transformed how information is packaged; how quickly and at what cost that information can be transmitted; and which networks have the power

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