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Government Power In Cyberspace Is Big And Growing

Months after the revolutions started to sweep through countries in the Middle East and North Africa, debate continues over the role social media played in toppling governments.

A new study by the University of Washington has concluded Twitter did, in fact, play a major role in the revolutions of the Arab Spring.

"Until now, most of what we have known about the role of social media in the Arab Spring has been anecdotal," the report said. But after analyzing more than 3 million tweets, "for the first time we have evidence confirming social media’'s critical role in the Arab Spring."

The report, conducted by the university's Project on Information Technology and Political Islam, noted that the number of tweets from Egypt went from 2,300 to 230,000 in the week before Egypt's president, Hosni Mubarak, resigned.

This latest study counters a Yale researcher who argued last month that social media likely hindered the unrest as much as it helped. In fact, Mubarak's decision to shutdown the Internet further inflamed the situation, rather than helping to stop the protests.

More about how governments are exercising more powerover--and through--the Internet than ever beforehere.

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