Egypt: Is Facebook and Technology Becoming a Political Tool?

Is Facebook and technology becoming a political tool? Facebook boasts 5 million users in Egypt and whether it likes it or not this Silicon Valley giant has been thrust like never before into a sensitive global political moment that versus the company's need for an open internet against concerns that autocratic regimes could limit use of the site or shut it down altogether. Egypt’s revolution is forcing Facebook kingdom to grapple with the prospect that other governments will become cautious of permitting it to operate in their countries without restrictions or close monitoring.


Egypt’s uprising is still going on and as the people of Egypt continue their revolt, social media and technology continues to play its part for both sides - Mubarak’s government and the people.
Vodafone admitted on 4 February that it sent out pro-Mubarak text messages to its users of its services in Egypt and that it was obliged to by the government. The digital international community and technology is bypassing mainstream media by creating its own space in order to engage directly with populations all over the globe. The stream of information is fast and in real time; it is almost impossible to keep up. Autocratic regimes needs to find other solutions to censor their own populations, as the Egyptian government is showing with the recent shut down of mobile phones and internet.

No one disputes the crucial role social networks and technology is playing as the Egyptian people’s revolution unfolds. Even though the authoritarian leadership of Egypt did everything in their power to completely block internet access, protesters are still finding ways to post information on online. Platforms like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have been the main source for people around the world to watch and follow the events. Protesters are using these networks to coordinate their activities and inform.

These armies of protesters are equipped with tools that allow them to become reporters, taking pictures from the scene and uploading them on social networks, posting comments about the most recent events on the streets and giving the public the most raw and uncensored version of what is really going on. Journalists on the ground and protesters alike have been sending live updates on the protests via micro-blogging website Twitter.

These armies of protesters are equipped with tools that allow them to become reporters, taking pictures from the scene and uploading them on social networks, posting comments about the most recent events on the streets and giving the public the most raw and uncensored version of what is really going on. Journalists on the ground and protesters alike have been sending live updates on the protests via micro-blogging website Twitter.

A popular thought in cyber world’s philosophy surrounding this political upheaval, is will the revolution be tweeted or Facebooked? And the people of Egypt are showing us that the answer is probably. The good news for Twitter and Facebook is how important they are, and should be congratulated for being critical tools. Digital media and technology allows voices to be heard without censorship....unless governments have the ‘big switch.’

Photo Credit: Gawker.com and Valley Wag

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