Social media and Egypt

Photo courtesy of MSNBC

It seems as though the upheaval in Egypt is finally calming down after more than a week of violence, sadness, grief, hope and happiness all at the same time. Something that caught my attention the most was the overall reaction from the restriction of Facebook and Twitter – and later the Internet – during the crisis. Journalists weren’t able to get out information or even tweet what was going on from the streets. It may have been the first time I have noticed that 24/7, 365, anytime, anywhere news service we have nowadays was no longer strong enough to stand up to the government of a country…for awhile anyways.

Journalists and civilans alike were able to get around the barriers and when news crews couldn’t get out  a steady picture of what was happening on the ground, they eventually were able to spread the word to concerned onlookers via social media.  As of  the afternoon of January 27, a Facebook page devoted to Friday’s planned protests had more than 80,000 followers and hashtags such as #Cairo, #jan25 and #Suez generated a flood of discussions.

I think one the most thought-provoking things I read was in an article that stated, “If the medium is the message, then, for the first time in history, the message is that every human has a voice and has a right to use it.” The people of Egypt were blocked from a right to free speech, and in this case, it was social media that delivered that speech. While SM has been seen more and more to broadcast on-the-ground coverage of events, such as the Haiti earthquake, I think the situation in Egypt was at the forefront of how social media can be used to inform not just the friends you follow, but to the entire world.

 

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