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Publication Date

January 2011


Around the world, social media offer an informal virtual space for citizens who feel disenfranchised to connect socially. But for those who live in countries such as the three former Soviet republics of the Caucasus — where free expression is curtailed and official news outlets are under government censorship — information and communication technology (ICT) offers an increasingly important alternative vehicle for political expression. Recent developments in Tunisia, Egypt, and Iran demonstrate how blogging and social media tools may fulfill a crucial role for non-journalists and oppositional groups that journalism serves in more democratic societies. This article considers the use of ICT in the development of cosmopolitanism by examining recent events in the Caucasus, including a government investigation into Facebook videos in Georgia, the arrest of bloggers in Azerbaijan, and the blocking of oppositional and independent websites in Armenia. It also discusses how Western information/social network corporations may facilitate dissent, the ethical implications of them doing so when negotiating with authoritarian regimes, and the risks to citizens who are at the receiving end of the consequences of these policies.

Publication Title

Journal of Media Sociology

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