March 03, 2011

Social-Media Lessons for Nonprofits From the Middle East Crisis

Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

As recent citizen uprisings gained momentum in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya much of the Western world turned to social media to follow the events.

Meanwhile, as protestors streamed videos and pictures over the Web, government leaders in these countries took steps to censor their communication. Egypt, most notably, denied the majority of its citizens access to the Internet for several days as it tried to quell the uprising.

These events have spurred a debate over the role that social media has played in toppling dictators and raised a number of questions that affect how nonprofits in the United States use social-media tools.

In this edition of Social Good, Allison Fine, the host, interviews Ethan Zuckerman, a researcher at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard and co-founder of Global Voices, and Micah Sifry, author of the book Wikileaks and the Age of Transparency.

They discuss the consequences of Internet censorship for advocacy groups and the role of social media in the recent events in the Middle East.

Allison Fine, a nonprofit leader and expert on technology and communications, discusses how charities and foundations can more effectively use social-media tools to spread their messages and raise money. Ms. Fine incorporates suggestions and questions from readers into her podcasts and invites you to e-mail her at Look for new installments on the first Thursday of every month.