Facebook and the Mass Media in Tunisia

Konstantin Aal Marén Schorch Esma Ben Hadj Elkilani Volker Wulf

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Abstract

Facebook played a considerable role during the political uprisings of the so called ‘Arab Spring’ in 2011. Together with Al-Jazeera, it was one of the few reliable sources of information for protesters at that time. In this paper, we explore the media landscape in Tunisia two years after the uprising. We conducted a qualitative investigation (participant observation and interviewing) with young Tunisians. The paper describes how they use Facebook (FB), newspapers, and TV for gaining information and for exchange. By that time, FB was their primary medium for access to political information. They prefer the variety and diversity of user-generated content, they select information, discuss issues among their friends inside FB and with that, co-create meaning and trust. It seems that both traditional censorship in the national mass media and the revolutionary experience have created a unique media landscape among young Tunisians. Facebook still plays a leading role for many in that landscape, but there remains a ‘digital divide’.