Cultural identity and social media in the Arab spring: Collective goals in the use of Facebook in the Libyan context

Tao Papaioannou, Hugo Enrique Olivos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While the use of social media in articulating citizens’ actions and social change in the Arab Spring movement has challenged more traditional participation and public deliberation practices, important questions are emerging about the potential of the networked sphere to contribute to the democratic process in these countries. This article aims to analyse the role of cultural identity in facilitating civic participation and empowering citizens through the use of Facebook in the Libyan context. A content analysis of posts within three months in 2012 on three Libyan Facebook pages is performed in order to identify collective goals shared among the participants and their use of Facebook in reference to these objectives. The results reveal that new cultural values based on human rights and political freedom, in particular participation in free elections, are disseminated via Facebook, highlighting Libya’s transition from an authoritarian regime towards democracy. Second, Facebook is used to serve these collective goals through promoting civic journalism, encouraging freedom of speech and facilitating participation in civic and political activities. Facebook also supports among Libyan citizens an inclusive discourse which recognizes equal representation of all regions in the country and its cultural and political significance in the emergence of a new democracy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-114
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Arab and Muslim Media Research
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2013


  • Arab Spring movement
  • Cultural identity
  • Democracy
  • Facebook
  • Libya
  • Social media


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