If proof was needed that social media empowers people and fuels revolutions then you should look at the unfolding situations in #Tunisia, #Egypt and countries in the middle-east. Facebook, Twitter and Egypt’s own Masrawy have connected people and empowered them to share their thoughts and opinions on how their states are governed.

The adoption of social networking in Arabic-speaking states has gone relatively unnoticed. Yet according to web research firm Alexa the top sites in Tunisia and Egypt are Facebook, Twitter and search company Google.

Anger and resentment at their respective Governments has found a nerve on people online, which has spread to citizens in respective countries.

Tunisia’s Secretary of State for Communication Sami Zaoui admitted at this week’s 2011 World Economic Forum (#WEF) about the impact that social networking had in the overthrowing of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Speaking to YouTube’s Uncultured Project Shawn Ahmed, Secretary Zaoui said, “Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have had great contribution to that [the revolution], in addition to, of course, all the demonstrators that have been in the field.” Secretary Zaoui also highlighted the fact that 40 per cent of the population being connected online to the success of the ‘Jasmine Revolution.’

But the demands from the population for work, food and democracy has spread through the region with Egyptian citizens taking to streets to demand an end of President Moubarak’s regime. Using the same sites as well as mobiles, demonstrators gathered to protest. Twitter, which is now blocked in Egypt saw a serve in use with people communicating and sharing messages using the #jan25 hashtag.

The outcome from the revolution in Tunisa unnerved the Egyptian regime, which took unprecedented action and blocked Internet services and mobile networks in the hope of quashing the uprisings. Demonstrators though quickly bypassed the authority’s firewalls and accessed the web through alternative means including the old dial-up system. Such a crackdown on communication brought condemnation from the international community.

Authorities in Egypt also started to censor and block news output, with Qatar’s Al-Jazeera having to broadcasting through alternative satellite frequencies after they were taken of air.

What social media has done is empower people. It has taught them how to overcome barriers and it’s enabled people to find a base where they can share their view and opinions. Opaque regimes have come under greater scrutiny with citizens wanting transparency and accountability. It’s enabled them to take action.

The BBC launched its much-anticipated ‘Democracy Live’ online service on Friday. Offering ‘live and video on demand video coverage of the UK’s national political institutions and the European Parliament’, the site brings politics to the public. Giving people insight into government and how our elected representatives and institutions work.

It was two years ago when the corporation’s Director General Mark Thompson gave a speech at Westminster on trust, politics and broadcasting where he outlined his view on how the BBC could help make politics more relevant to every citizen in this country.

At the time Thomson said, “We want to take our coverage of Westminster, the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly, the Northern Ireland Assembly, the European Parliament, as well as local councils up and down the land and turn them into the most engaging, the most creative multimedia portal for democracy in the world, using BBC Parliament and our other television, networks, radio, the web and mobile. Since then MPs and news outlets have come under more scrutiny than ever before.

In his speech Thompson added, “Direct access to information about your MP or representative: how they vote, what they stand for, how you can contact them. Survival guides and in-depth analysis of current debates and current legislation. Easy ways, for anyone who wants to, to plug into and take part in the debate. And all of it available to every secondary school in the UK as part of a strengthened commitment by BBC Learning to supporting citizenship and modern media literacy.”

I understand that the BBC has invested between £1-£1.5 million on Democracy Live, with the most significant cost being the 11 members of staff focused on the site.

Up and until the launch accessing such information and real-time feeds were available through either the Parliament site or through paid-for services such as those offered by companies such as DeHavilland.

What will make Democracy Live work is the use of speech-to-text recognition software offered by Blinkx. It is understood that Blinkx will the use both the phonetic and text transcripts to create transcripts and meta-tags that can be added to each video.  Blinkx also has a speech to text success rate of over 80 per cent, which is expected to increase as the site and video services beds in.

I also gather that the beta’s of the site that were presented to politicians during conference season were well received.

So, politics through the BBC, scrutiny of politicians and their decision-making though the BBC.