Mass Communications 100
A Revolution in Egypt through Social Media
People call today the information age. The reason for this is the internet. With the internet, people can go online and have what seems like limitless information available to them at their fingertips. Recently, Egyptian activists have incorporated the internet to serve their revolutionary needs. They have come up with intelligent ways of knowing when online protest will lead to offline protest. Activists look at who is starting a protest and if it is someone they deem credible they are much more likely to join. Without the internet and social media, the Egyptian revolutionaries would not have found their start, their leader, and their means of exposing the injustice taking place in their country. In this fast-paced time it is appropriate to point out the Internet's role in the Egyptian revolution. In doing this, we must consider the leading role of a 30 year old executive from Google. “The peaceful Egyptian revolution had a distinct goal, but no clear leader”, reported CBS News correspondent Seth Doane. “Yet, from the masses, a handful emerged, including Wael Ghonim. His “tweets” offered both a narrative and a nudge to protesters.” “He has sort of been tweeting every day, almost every hour,” said CNET.com's Declan McCullagh. “He has been saying this is what I'm doing this is how we are going to bring democracy and freedom to Egypt. He has developed quite a massive following; he has become a figure head of this revolt. I guess we can now call it a revolution,” (Pelly, 2011). Wael Ghonim does not seem like someone who would lead a revolution. At Cairo University he studied computer engineering and he earned an M.B.A. in marketing and finance at the American University in Cairo (Crovitz, 2011). Ghonim is currently the product and marketing manager for the Middle East and North Africa sector of Google. He was a typical web marketer who was quoted in corporate press releases promoting the ArabNet conference, creating Google AdWords vouchers for small businesses and launching an Arabic website to teach people how to run searches, send emails and chat online (Crovitz, 2011). These were hardly the activities of a revolutionary, but from his place in Dubai, Ghonim was waiting for an opportunity to become politically active in his home country from behind the scenes. In June of 2010, he found his opportunity when a horrible murder of a young Egyptian businessman took place. Khaled Said, died after being beaten by the police (Prettyman, 2011). Witnesses described how Said was taken from an Internet café by a small group of policemen, his head smashed into a set of marble stairs and left for dead on an Alexandria street. Police officers took Said as a threat when he was caught copying a video they had made of themselves splitting up confiscated marijuana, which later appeared on YouTube (Crovitz, 2011). Ghonim responded by creating a Facebook page called “We Are All Khaled Said.” It showed brutal cell phone photos shot in the morgue of Said’s face after the beating (Alexander, 2011). This visual evidence proved the official explanations for his death to be false. The Facebook page attracted, almost immediately, around 500,000 members (Alexander, 2011). After 30 years of martial law, abuse of power by police and state security officials were so common that the case was a perfect starting point for a network of many upset Egyptians. With this large following, Ghonim and others used the Facebook page to track more accounts of police abuse of power which included wrongful arrests, torture and corrupt government (Alexander, 2011). Social media also became a substitute for traditional media because most, if not all, of traditional media in Egypt is controlled by the governemnt. Even though Ghonim ran the Facebook page anonymously, Egyptian authorities traced it back to him (Crovitz, 2011). A few days after the protests...