I’ve often reiterated that social media is a powerful monster, capable of shaking up a nation and even the whole world. A case in point was the Egyptian ‘Revolution’ where pro-democracy supporters thronged to the Tweetosphere and used Twitter to build momentum to oust President Hosni Mubarak. While Twitter served as a vital source of information for global observers, media and journalists in that crisis, a few good men went as far as calling Egyptians on mobile phones, and then tweeting out their words in 140 characters.
I don’t have an active interest in politics at the moment. However, it’s hard to ignore how social media turned a nation upside down in a matter of days and continued to neighbours like Libya.
Blocking Social Media isn’t the solution!
The Egyptian president followed the precedent set by Pakistan and Iran to block all social media sites including Twitter. As expected, China was quick to ban searches for ‘Egypt’ as part of its’ closed-wall internet approach. Blocking social media isn’t a solution to such problems and I’m surprised that this approach hasn’t worked for any of the countries.
If anything, it lends more credibility to the power of social media. Instead, countries and their governments should adopt an approach to harness social media tools such as Twitter to promote harmony and peace.
Despite being banned, people can still access Twitter in several banned countries using anonymous proxies, re-directions and several other lesser-known hacks.
How Twitter is helping Journalists & Print Media in Egypt?
With most sources of information blocked in Egypt, the print media and journalist fraternity turned to social media to gain vital information about the volatile political conditions in the country. Twitter along with Facebook, YouTube and blogs served as highly efficient real-time reporting tools for journalists looking for insider details on the Egyptian revolution.
The Egyptian governments’ attempt to block communication did little to stifle reports coming out of the country, which resorted to social media to gain momentum in its fierce battle for democracy.
Google and Twitter
It was heartening to see technology heavyweights such as Google and Twitter come out openly in support of the Egyptian public. The two companies teamed up to launch a new speech-to-text recognition technology that converted voicemails left to a specific phone number into tweets sent out with the “#egypt” hash tag.
Twitter is still alive and kicking in Egypt
I must applaud the efforts of John Scott-Railton, who ensured that Egyptians continued to have access to Twitter, even if it meant making international calls to capture the emotions of the Egyptian people before tweeting about them. When he learnt that the mobile phone access was cut off, he collected landline numbers – talk about determination and serving the human cause and you won’t find a better example.
Political unrest is the last thing any country needs. Unfortunate as it is, I don’t see the Egyptian revolution ending any time soon until true democracy is in place. I hope the Egyptian public backed by the powress of social media and Twitter in particular; achieve their goal of democracy sooner than later. Please share your opinion by leaving a comment below this post.