(Reuters) - After the "Arab Spring" surprised the world with the power of technology to revolutionize political dissent, governments are racing to develop strategies to respond to, and even control, the new player in the political arena -- social media.
Anti-government protesters in Tunisia and Egypt used Twitter, Facebook and other platforms to run rings around attempts at censorship and organize demonstrations that ousted presidents Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak.
That served as a wake-up call to those in authority. By allowing millions of citizens to coordinate political action quickly and often without conventional leadership, the new technology is challenging traditional political power structures.
"We are well beyond being able to consider social media a fad," said Alec Ross, one of the creators of the social media campaign that helped propel Barack Obama to the White House and now senior adviser for innovation to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.