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The Middle East’s latest unrest has revived once again a tired debate about the power of social media. Recent headlines gush about the arrival of the “Facebook Revolution” or “Twitter Diplomacy.”

What began as a popular uprising that toppled the Tunisian government before spreading into Algeria, Jordan, Yemen, Sudan and, of course, Egypt, may now be headed for Syria.

Pope Benedict XVI still won't let you poke him (he’s not on Facebook), but the pope has offered new praise of the “great opportunity” of social networking sites and invited Christians "to join the network of relationships which the digital era has made possible." With a caveat: Virtual relationships are no substitute for the real thing, he said.

During the street demonstrations in Tunis, amidst the signs demanding “Ben Ali Out” were placards saying “Thank you, Al Jazeera.” The Qatar-based pan-Arab television network has never been allowed to open a bureau in Tunisia – a prescient if ultimately unsuccessful tactic by Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali’s government...

January 24, 2011

The African country that has the highest percentage of people with Facebook accounts is Tunisia, at 18%. That's triple the penetration of the social-media service in repressive Egypt.

A reporter tagged in a Facebook image that mocked the Palestinian president said Saturday he faces trial for insulting a public figure, raising concerns about freedom of speech in the Western-backed Palestinian Authority.

With nearly half the U.S. population on Facebook, the social network’s omnipresence is almost passe. In Asia, however, the social network is still exploding, and with no end in sight.

Mr. Zuckerberg, the 26-year-old Facebook chief executive and co-founder, may be the man of the moment in the United States and much of the rest of the online world. But here in Japan, one of the globe’s most wired nations, few people have heard of him.

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