Predicting a revolution based on internet penetration

Is there a tipping point of internet penetration which provides a critical mass for social revolution in a country with a non-democratic or repressive government?

It’s a thought that’s been bugging me ever since I read about the Wikileaks Factor in the Tunisian revolution which ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. For this to be a factor plenty of Tunisians would have had to access the Wikileaks documents which details the scandelous affairs of this crooked president.

Social networks have also been given plenty of credit for the revolution unfolding in Egypt.

So I went and had a look at the numbers over on www.internetworldstats.com to see what they could tell us about these two scenarios. Well, fascinatingly, both Egypt and Tunisia have seen a massive growth in internet users and internet penetration over the last 10 years.
Both have now got internet penetration of over 20% and in Tunisia’s case it was as high as 34%.
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Our bite of Wikileaks’ treasure trove of US diplomatic cables

When Wikileaks started making noises about releasing 250,000 US diplomatic cables from around the world, I was immediately fascinated. I have a long-standing interest in diplomacy and how government’s interact with each other behind the scenes after studying International Relations for a spell while working in London and working for a short while as a diplomatic correspondent for the Sunday Times in Pretoria on my return from London.

The Wikileaks stash promised to be a treasure trove of stories and insight into such affairs.

Of course, there was also the promise of some really fascinating stories about South Africa as US diplomatic missions have been active and intimate with South Africa’s affairs for decades. Continue reading