Facebook’s use in organizing some of the early Arab Spring protest movements has been well-documented. The social networking giant appears to have come full circle, however, being used both to organize protests against tyranny and to tyrannize the protesters after the fact.
That’s the news from a new documentary on al-Jazeera English, detailing the violent crackdown on dissidents in Bahrain. The Bahraini government apparently used Facebook to identify those protesters to be tapped for disappearance, with one thread inviting visitors to “write the traitor’s name and work place” in the comments section leading to the arrest of a 20 year old woman.
The woman vanished into the legal black hole that passes for the Bahraini kingdom’s justice system, and appeared on state television three months later to issue a public apology for her involvement in protests.
The tracking of posts by regime loyalists has protesters in other countries like Syria increasingly scared to use social networking software in their organization, fearing that what they say can and will be used against them by increasingly net-savvy dictators.