Silicon Valley News

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Facebook, YouTube couriers of Syrian uprising



Foreign journalists have been barred from Syria, where some 1,000 protesters have been killed since mid-March in a popular uprising President Bashar Assad. "The only way we get information is through the citizen journalist," says Ammar Abudlhamid, a Syrian exile living in Maryland who helped organize the delivery of satellite phones and laptops to Syria earlier this year.

Facebook, YouTube and Twitter have been used by a clandestine group of Syrian journalists to bring worldwide attention to the tumultuous protests calling for the ouster of Assad, whose family has ruled this Middle East country for 40 years.

The Facebook page of Syrian Revolution 2011, which has some 200,000 followers, has been a key source of information about the rebellion. The YouTube video and memorial Facebook page of Hamza Khatib, a 13-year-old boy who was recently allegedly tortured and killed while in government custody, has sparked massive demonstrations. The Shaam News Network created by young Syrian activists has been able to leak news about the recent clashes through YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. The Local Coordinating Comittees in Syria has also downloaded a host of YouTube videos showing the street protests.



This video filmed in Hama on June 3 shows demonstrators fleeing gunfire. According to varying reports, in 1982 government soldiers massacred between 10,000-40,000 civilians to quell a popular rebellion. A collection of  videos showing the recent clashes in Hama have been posted on YouTube's CitizenTube.