The only people who thought the "arab spring" was a burgeoning utopia are western military, intelligence, and political elites.
Now those same people see these platforms as a threat and so the "respectable" media is full of anti-SV stories.
> it’s all automated; the owners of the system can’t possibly monitor everything that’s going on, and they can’t control it
Yes, that is the real problem: communications that can't be censored and controlled.
It's part of a persistent strain of technoutopianism. You might read Tom Standage's excellent 1998 book "The Victorian Internet", which talks about the adoption of the telegraph during the Victorian era. Many of the same things people said about the Internet's power to change society were said about the telegraph: https://www.amazon.com/Victorian-Internet-Remarkable-Ninetee...
It was not as immediate and exciting as modern technology, but it was way more exciting than what previously existed. People even fell in love by telegraph. See, for example, the 1880 novel "Wired Love: A Romance of Dots and Dashes": https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/26/wired-love-romance...
Furthermore, dopamine isn’t addictive and “In studies with rats, where dopamine was suppressed, rats showed “normal hedonic reaction patterns,” and still showed normal pleasure responses even though dopamine was suppressed.
But hilariously, America seems dead-set on using the same weapon on itself...
It is hard to say how much the social media (twitter especially) were really playing a role on the ground and how much they were being used for propaganda to shape opinion in the west.
The arab spring was when CNN and others started reporting on tweets like they were legitimate news, which obviously has to be a discriminatory process, because someone is deciding which tweets are news out of the millions that are not.
Someone decides that the tweets of atrocities on one side are news, while atrocities on the other side are not, and that the tweets "proving" that the first tweets were staged fakes are not news either.
Considering how much support I saw from outside the US, I'm finding this hard to believe.
Twitter is an American corporation, the users are its product. They did exactly what the platform incentivised them to do.
Users aren't the product, they're the revenue stream. The product is an easy to use communication tool.
It’s a weapon that can totally disrupt a society to the point at which it cannot function. What else would you call what happened in Libya?
In history we mostly learn about the successful revolution, and rarely hear about the failed ones. In the recent past the Middle-East has a litany of failed revolutions.