Will Syria's Revolution Be Organized... on Facebook?

Tunisia has been overthrown. Egypt is tottering. Now Facebook pages are calling for protests to begin in Syria later this week.

Syria Revolution 2011 posterTunisia has been overthrown. Egypt is tottering. Think there'll be more to come? Maybe. In the wake of those uprisings, pages have begun popping up on Facebook, calling for protests to begin in Syria on February 4 and 5.

“After Friday prayers, February 4 is the first day of anger for the proud Syrian people. Comprehensive civil disobedience in all cities,” reads one of the pages, titled “The Syrian Revolution 2011.”

It’s not clear what impact these pages will actually have on the ground. A few thousand people have “Liked” them--a small number relative to the tens of thousands who “Liked” pages calling for demonstrations in Cairo last week (before, of course, the Egyptian government put the kibosh on the Internet). The fact that Facebook is officially banned in Syria makes getting the word out more difficult, though many users find their ways around using proxy servers.

It’s also not clear that the Syrian people themselves are ready to rise up, the way Tunisians and Egyptians were. Syrian president Bashar al-Assad has kept a tight grip on the country, and in the wake of the Tunisian unrest, he started jiggling a few levers, presumably to diffuse any impulse toward protest, including raising a fuel subsidy and, according to Reuters, tightening controls on the Internet.

Over the weekend, Assad seemed to be suggesting to The Wall Street Journal that Syria wouldn’t be witnessing the same kind of tumult that has gripped its neighbors. "Syria is stable,” he said.

Authorities might also be keeping a firm hand on things. According to the Middle East Research Institute (a think tank founded by a former colonel in Israeli military intelligence), Syria nipped solidarity protests with Egypt in the bud on Saturday, and the country’s security chief has been conferring with regional and police commanders about possible protests.

Some tweeters, however, kept pushing for action. A schedule making its way around Twitter predicts rolling revolutions: Sudan on January 30 (the southern part of the country held a referendum on independence on Sunday), Yemen on February 3, Syria on February 5, Algeria on February 12, and Bahrain, February 14.

[Image via The Syrian Revolution 2011]

E.B. Boyd is FastCompany.com's Silicon Valley reporter. Follow me on Twitter, or email me.

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