While many have referred to the explosion of online communications platforms as a ‘social media revolution,’ a new article in the Wall Street Journal explains how Facebook and Twitter helped spark and maintain an actual revolution in Egypt.
With the original intention of becoming politically active behind the scenes in his native Egypt, 30-year old Google executive Wael Ghonim soon found the linchpin after fellow countryman Khaled Said died subsequent to posting video to YouTube of corrupt police officers in action. Witnesses say Said was taken from an Internet cafe and beaten to death in the streets.
Inspired by this young man who had hoped to draw attention to official corruption, Ghonim created a Facebook page called “We Are All Khaled Said.” After posting grotesque morgue shots of Said which undermined the official explaination of the cause of death, the page attracted 500,000 members and served as a rallying point for outraged Egyptians. Ghonim and others used the Facebook page to track other accounts of police and governmental abuse, from wrongful arrests to torture. The page would next be used to plan and organize protests.
After the Internet was cut off, Google countered by creating Speak2Tweet, which allowed Egyptians to leave voice messages that were then posted to Twitter. For the Mubarek dictatorial machine, it was all too much. On Friday, those who had spoken, protested and persevered, in the streets and online – the citizens of Egypt – were liberated; testament once again to the power and voice of the people, amplified worldwide.