Center for International Media Assistance just released a report: Social Media in the Arab World: Leading up to the Uprisings of 2011. Jeffrey Grannam, independent media consultant and the author of the report is someone with much experience working in the Middle East. According to the organization's website, the report was commissioned long before the uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere in the Arab countries. The report looks at the impact, social networks, communication and citizen mobilization and mobile technology had on these revolutions.
This is a short excerpt from the report. The full version can be accessed here.
Digital communications technologies have expanded the tools available to exercise individual freedom of expression, and Arabs are indeed finding space online to express their opinions and enjoy freedoms that would otherwise be closed off to most. But while Arab Internet users have gained communications and technical capacities to use social networks to mobilize, the real impact won’t be felt for years, maybe even a few decades, observers say, when expectations and political regimes may have changed. For now, to express one’s opinion online, even when not delving into subjects deemed sensitive or traditionally off limits, remains risky in most of the Middle East and North Africa.