BBG Chairman Walter Isaacson appeared on Alhurra’s nightly talk show Free Hour to discuss the role of social media in the recent Arab revolutions. Five activists and bloggers from Egypt, Tunisia, France and Libya also joined the hour-long discussion.
Isaacson observed that social media like Facebook contributed to the success of the revolutions in the Middle East, but were not the cause.
He said, “the great thing about technology these days is that it allows people to make connections with other people, and it empowers them.”
Isaacson also addressed the impact of social media on the future of the Middle East and the rest of the world. He observed that control of information is essential to repressive regimes and “once they lose control of the flow of information it is hard to keep them in power.”
Isaacson fielded viewer questions submitted via Facebook, including one asking whether social media outlets will replace satellite television networks as a primary source of news.
Isaacson responded, “I think we are moving to a period in which more and more information is going to be delivered digitally, either to your cell phone, your computers, your television sets, through the Internet. For those of us that work for the Broadcasting Board of Governors, we don’t particularly care which technology that we use. We just want to get good news – reliable news and credible information – out.”