Wednesday, 2 February 2011


It has been fascinating to watch the affairs in Egypt as the people unite to show that they will not tolerate Presidents Mubarak and his government anymore.

Much has been made of the use of social media and how, despite government attempts to shut down the internet and mobile phones, that the world's geeks mobilised to ensure the true story was being told.

This news site here has a great round up of the part that social media played and indeed is playing in keeping the world and Egyptian people informed.

Whether social media have helped or hindered protesters in Egypt, the events of the past week there have underscored the fact that both pro- and anti-government activists throughout the Middle East are making the most of social networking tools to organize and promote their causes in real time to mass audiences.

Jon Stewart, an American comic, television commentator and activist, offered a sardonic quip that in many ways captures the transcendent power of social media in the Middle East.

"If two speeches and a social media site is all we needed to spread democracy then why did we invade Iraq? Why didn’t we just, I don’t know, ‘poke’ them," Stewart said, using the Facebook term for getting a user’s attention.

We have watched facebook and more importantly twitter play huge roles in big events such as the Queensland floods. The emergence of a twitter #hashtag (subject matter) #mythbusters from the queensland police was used to great effect. A rumour circulated on twitter on the #qldfloods feed that Brisbanes CBD was being evacuated.

The QLD police sent out a quick response to tell everyone that was not the case with the mythbuster tag. Everytime there was any misinformation the police quickly replied with the mythbuster tag and and a new element on twitter was born.

In Egypt, it was the world, who instead of smuggling guns across the border, "smuggled" phone numbers to give the Egyptians a pipeline to the world so the global village could watch on and support the efforts of the people to overthrow the despotic reigime.

In Egypt, the use of Twitter audio feeds was key to spreading the word.

We think that social media is so powerful simply because it allows people to interact. Its not like the passive reception of TV or Radio feeds. You are part of the newsmaking process. It appeals to a need to belong and on the social media networks you are never alone.

As the days go by the world can watch events unfold in Egypt from the comfort of their phones and laptops.

For the people on the ground, the fight for freedom is not over yet. But they know that the world is watching every second of the events unfold and that they are not alone.

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