Egyptian Revolution: Influence of Facebook

 

The Arab Spring brought a lot of change for the countries it affected. Regimes were toppled, dictators were ousted, and populations that had been silent in the face of oppression for decades finally stood up for themselves. One of the biggest reasons for this change of response was new technology. The internet and social media made it easier for people to have access to news that wasn’t full of government propaganda. The revolution in Egypt is a good example of this, where Facebook pages gave reports and photos of police violence and Egyptian suffering at the hands of the regime. Egypt was ready for its revolution in 2011 partly thanks to the Facebook page “Kullena Khaled Said,” which helped to inform, organize, and mobilize Egyptians in peaceful protests against the oppressive regime.

The page was created in June of 2010 by Wael Ghonim. It was made shortly after the attack and murder of Khaled Said by the Egyptian secret police. The page and a few others were a response to a photo of Said that showed his face beaten beyond recognition, combined with the official cause of death being declared a drug overdose. The page took advantage of this new wave of interest by discussing police violence and other injustices that weren’t being covered by the state-run media. The page did not take any strong stances against the government to avoid alienating more moderate Egyptians. The key to the revolution was getting as many people involved as possible, so this decision was very important to its overall success.

The following on the page rapidly grew, and members began meeting in public in peaceful silent protests organized on the page. While these events meant nothing to the regime, it meant a lot for the people that took part. The fact that they could do this without being stopped gave them the confidence they would need to finally stand up to the regime. When the Tunisian revolution began in December of 2010 and succeeded in January of 2011, the page took the opportunity to make a change of their own. Ghonim made a Facebook event for the protest that would prove to be the beginning of the end for the Egyptian regime. President Mubarak stepped down in February of 2011 to finally bring an end to his 30 year rule.

Works Cited

Giglio, Mike. “How Wael Ghonim Sparked Egypt’s Uprising.” Newsweek. Newsweek, 13 Feb. 2011. Web. 27 Oct. 2016.

Halliday, Josh. “Arab Spring: Google’s Wael Ghonim on the Fall of Mubarak.” The Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 18 May 2011. Web. 27 Oct. 2016.

Londono, Ernesto. “Egyptian Man’s Death Became Symbol of Callous State.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 09 Feb. 2011. Web. 27 Oct. 2016.

O’Donnell, Catherine. “New Study Quantifies Use of Social Media in Arab Spring.” UW Today. University of Washington, 12 Sept. 2011. Web. 27 Oct. 2016.

Vargas, Jose Antonio. “Spring Awakening.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 18 Feb. 2012. Web. 27 Oct. 2016.

Wahab, Nadine. “Flash Mob in Egypt: Protesters Find a Way around Emergency Law.” The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 19 June 2010. Web. 27 Oct. 2016.

Wallace-Wells, Benjamin. “The Lonely Battle of Wael Ghonim.” NYMag.com. New York Magazine, 22 Jan. 2012. Web. 27 Oct. 2016.

10 thoughts on “Egyptian Revolution: Influence of Facebook

  1. Katrina Berube

    How wonderful that we were all alive to see the Internet help a group of oppressed people revolt. In our Drawing Across Cultures class, we discussed and were expected to work with social media, specifically facebook. Social media has a unique ability to bring like-minded individuals (or unlike-minded) together, creating conversations. It is hard to interrupt communication, especially visual communication, in this era. The ability to say less and less, I believe, opens communication and confirms liberty.

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  2. Adam Mansour

    Sharing critical information became much more accessible because of Facebook and other social media sites. We see a lot of things about missing dogs, children and a lot of different categories that really make a difference. The things that draw on the the emotions of people that are using the social site created this sense of partnership.

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  3. Christopher Pickett

    Looking at this through the lens of information technology, I think this is an excellent example of a kind of benefit that the expansion of technology brings us. It would be far more difficult to organize and bring down a regime via word-of-mouth and in-person meetings, as opposed to spreading an idea in a digital sphere. The very same technology that helps us organize also practically forces to engage in a global dialogue about the events unfolding in our world, as we are now privy to a deluge of information that was completely unavailable thirty years ago. Events as complex as a regime change can now be reported on without being confined to a column or story in a newspaper, or a few minutes on television, and that allows the observers to examine every angle of these events.

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  4. Kurt Militi

    The internet is both a blessing and a curse, we can see it provide good uses for humanity such as the “Kullena Khaled Said” page, but it can also be used to morph the truth and spread lies, just as it can be seen happening in this story as well. There is a stark boundary line of what is good technology and what is bad technology. It’s interesting to see how this plays into my project on the Austrian Sisi films of the 1950s and how they bent the truth with the period piece of the old Austrian Empire. They portrayed it as an elegant and beautiful time where everyone was primp and proper and life was merry for everyone, when in actuality it was a much more grueling time and many of the main figureheads of the movie were not as sweet and dear in real life as they were in the film.

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  5. Monique Lavallee

    While reading this post it reminded me of my final project because there were people burning alive in China to protest police brutality. Nevertheless, in my other core class about Jordan, I don’t remember a lot of violence happening. There was a lot of unfair rulings towards people of different cultures. However, no one seemed to violently protest. Its amazing what different cultures do to gain the human rights they deserve.

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  6. Paige Sweeney

    The fact that they were able to make an impact through social media is amazing. In my Drawing Across Cultures class we talked a lot about the Arab Spring. I recall reading an article in the class which gave the perspective of multiple people who were affected by the Arab spring. They talked about their expectations and many were disappointed. For example, many people felt like they were stuck because of the violence and the lack of improvement. Your paper really seems to express the opinions of many people because the fact that they took a stand in anyway they could shows their motivation and disappointment with the government.

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  7. Nicholas Parks

    This topic connect well with some of the ideas we were dealing with in Drawing Across Culture. Throughout the semester we have highlighted the role social media and images are playing in our various societies today. Iconic images have been used for centuries to convey ideas and emotion to large groups of people within a society. The trick today is we are living in globalized communities with technology that connects all of us to one another from around the world. The role Facebook played in the Egyptian revolution connects very closely how attempted to understand visual communication this year. Images are often useful when attempting to go beyond mere understanding and into a deeper emotional response. The more impact something has on us emotionally, the more likely we are to care about whatever that “something” is. This Facebook page allowed Egyptians too see unedited, raw images of what was really going on and the emotional impact these images had on large numbers of people helped prompt the social change to come.

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  8. Silas

    The questions below are to guide my response, so feel free to ignore them.

    Great article. I learned how Facebook had a profound impact on the revolution. I never knew the full role of Facebook in the revolution. It is interesting how so many people flocked to this platform that was originally never intended to spark political revolution. I never knew who the leader of this revolution was or how it all started with one page. I also never knew that the regime did not seem to have problems with the silent protesting. I wonder if the regime regrets not doing something earlier to quell these peaceful protests that were occurring. I would reason to say that they probably do, since they eventually lead to their demise.

    It is interesting to see how this political revolution was fueled by Facebook, yet in the US, Facebook has recently been blamed for disrupting the election by allowing fake news to be spread on the platform. I guess it is interesting to see how Facebook can be used in two different ways in two different places. I wonder if the Egyptian regime ever thought about spreading false information on Facebook to trick protestors. I think Facebook is a valuable resource for spreading information, but it presents risk in regards to the fact that it can easily be manipulated.

    I don’t see many similarities in this work and my own considering I wrote about a subway system. A stretch would be that the subway allowed previously immobile people to become mobile and free them from the distances they could walk.

    On another note, I think on a broader scale, the internet in general has been a really powerful platform for all sorts of people to come out and be confident in their positions knowing there is a community out there that supports them. For example, at the Core Convivium, I talked to a number of different presenters about their presentations and a common theme was the internet. For example, in Bodies courses, there were a number of presenters talking about nipples and the difference between a male and female nipple. Facebook decides that female nipples cannot be displayed, but male nipples can. This presenter created and entire display of male nipples that made up a larger nude female. The idea of censorship on Facebook is interesting because nipples have been decided to be against the rules, but political revolutions have not. I saw another display about Poke Stops in Burlington. This is a social platform designed to get people walking around and it has proved very successful. In a sense it has created quite the global community of supporters and players that will go around the globe to catch Pokemon. This is an interconnected community that is made possible by social platforms and the internet.

    Overall, a great article. Thanks for enlightening all of us on what actually happened in this revolution. I had previously no clue, so this was really great.

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  9. Campbell Fletcher

    Really interesting! I didn’t know many details on the Egyptian revolution until now, and now I’m interested to look into even more. I’m very interested in knowing what the government response to these facebook pages was- I’m pretty surprised such an oppressive rule didn’t try to take these pages down. Like you said, they didn’t take a necessarily anti-government stance, but contradicting government information (the cause of death, for example) still seems like it might be a threat to their rule. Perhaps as a 30 year old regime, Mubarak’s regime just didn’t realize the threat it posed to them.

    A common theme I notice with both my class and final paper is the incredible power of information. For example, when Napoleon temporarily controlled some of the Austrian Empire’s territory, he seeded new ideas of education, liberty, and nationalism in these areas. Over the next generation or so, these ideas could only gain more strength, culminating in the assassination of the empire’s archduke Franz Ferdinand. This eventually resulted in the independent nation of Yugoslavia.

    One notable Serbian who lived under the empire before this change was the famed inventor and engineer, Nikola Tesla. He left to pursue his dreams in America, but was happy to see his people gain independence later in life. As a result, he very likely understood the importance of the freedom of information. This even may have lead him to one of his more stunning predictions; Tesla tried many times to receive the funding to send electrical signals through the planet itself. His dream was not only free energy, but also a vast public wealth of information. He foresaw people using small devices to view politicians giving speeches across the world, or learning new things, or just communicating. All this, almost a century before its time.

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  10. Tanner Kelley

    This is such a cool thing to think about. The fact that a digital service such as Facebook could have such a large scale impact on society is crazy. This proves the power of information in almost every sense. This article reminded me of my final project on the NIS Directive in the EU. The directive is about protecting information from malicious people. That can be important in events such as this. If the Egyptian government was able to gain access to Wael Ghonim’s account they could have potentially ended or delayed the revolt.

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