*Photo from Flikr under Creative Commons. Tahrir Square Country. Photo taken by Maged Helal. *
Facebook: The Egyptian Revolution
By: Amina Ramona Khan
Me: Hi everyone, my name is Ramona, and today I’m here with one of my best friend, Nasirah!
Nasirah: Hey everyone!
Me: So before we begin this podcast, just give me a few minutes to go through my Face…Oh my gosh, I can’t believe Tom joined the Korean army. I always thought he’d end up becoming a bartender.
Nasirah: Whoa...He’s brave. But no, oh my gosh, you know Sam and Nick broke up!?
Me: Get out. Those two were like married at birth. Wow.
Facebook chat sounds
Me: Ugh, guess who just decided to message me?
Nasirah: Don’t tell me it’s KayMoney. That guy really needs to change that Facebook name
Me: I know, right?
Intro Music: InQUERY
*Transition Music: “Blur” By RSF. Listen here! * https://soundcloud.com/rsfmu https://soundcloud.com/rsfmu
Facebook is used for a million and one things. It can be used to connect with friends, post on their walls, and “like” their photos. It can be used to play games such as Farmville, Tetris and Jetman, and so many more. Speaking on Farmville, I will never forget that obsessive phase that so many Facebook users went through. My goodness, the things people would do to keep their virtual chickens alive. Anyway, aside from friends and games, Facebook is also used to create groups, events, and fan pages. Funny story actually, I remember back when I was in the 9th grade, my classmates and I were wasting our time on Facebook, rather than using our computer time to work on assignments. At that point, my teacher didn’t eve care to be honest. She said, “You guys are the Facebook generation…Use it wisely.”
Use Facebook wisely? Thought my 14-year-old self. Oh, that’s probably her way of saying, “don’t spend too much time stalking ex-boyfriends or girlfriends.
*Music: “Facebook” Listen to the original version by Passenger here! *
Yeah, I agree. It never helped anyone.
Anyway, I find pretty amazing how Facebook can be used for so much. Playing games, connecting with friends, downloading apps, and overturning tyrant governments.
Me: Yeah, you heard me.
Nasirah: Wait, what? But how? By posting insults on government fan pages?
Me: Yes! Exactly…Not, not really. Well since I’ll be focusing on Facebook and political reform within this podcast, I shall explain.
*Transition Music: “Little Planet” Soundtrack. *
In January 2011, the Egyptian people stood up for themselves against their tyrant government, 30 years later. After living under oppression and in poverty for long, it was only the matter of stepping out of their homes, and onto the streets and protesting.
Nasirah: Wait, but I don’t get it...What does Facebook have to do with that?
Me: It all started with a young man named Wael Ghonim.
Wael Ghonim is an Egyptian-born, online social activist that is the Head of Marketing of Google Middle East and North Africa. He lived in the city that’s named #1 on the list of the most Luxurious Cities in the World, Dubai. Although Ghonim was living the good life, he was not happy with what was happening in his home country, Egypt.
(To read full biography, go to the following link:
Nasirah: Oh, so basically this Google Ghonim guy blew up the Egyptian government?
Me: No. Not exactly. I mean, what? No, not even close. Just listen.
After Ghonim heard about the tragic news about a man named Khaled Said being brutally beaten to death by the police, he just couldn’t take it anymore. However, after actually viewing a video of the violent attack against Said, Ghonim knew that this was the time to bring change. It was either now, or never.
Nasirah: It’s honestly mind boggling to know that these brutal beatings occur so often. And I think the worst part about it is that people wouldn’t even be aware if it weren’t for these photos and videos.
*Transition Music: “Tabla Loop Shuffle” By c0mp0s3r. *
In 2010, Ghonim set up a Facebook page titled “We Are All Khalid Said” ( https://www.facebook.com/elshaheeed.co.uk/?fref=ts https://www.facebook.com/elshaheeed.co.uk/?fref=ts Note: This Facebook page was originally created so that people who speak English would understand what was happening. The original “We Are All Khaled Said” Facebook page consisted of Arabic only). His primary motive was to assemble the Egyptian youth together, create a plan, and then get them to step out of their homes and fight for their rights; to get them to *protest against the government. *
Nasirah: Whoa…So basically, these Egyptian millennials overturned their government through Facebook?
Me: Yes. Finally, you’re on the same page as me.
Nasirah: You mean Facebook page.
Me: Even better!
Nasirah: You know, people should really do some real research on this topic.
Me: Oh trust me. Many people already have. And what I found to be most interesting is that some scholars were completely agreeing with the fact that Facebook played a huge role in overturning the government, yet other scholars dismissed Facebook and claimed it had little to nothing to do with the revolution.
Nasirah: Yeah, I agree. That is pretty interesting.
Transition Music: “Eastern_01_Longley” By James_longley
A scholar named Ekaterina Stepanova suggests in her article that “the input of the social media networks was critical in performing two overlapping functions: (a) organizing the protests and (b) publicizing information about them, including announcing protesters’ demands internationally (Facebook reportedly outmatched Al Jazeera in at least the speed of news distribution)” (2).
*(View full article on the link below) *
Transition: Music: “Middle East Ethnic Tribal Percussion” By Roanian
Nasirah: I love that social media can have such a great impact on peoples’ lives.
Me: Absolutely. One would think that social media is all fun and games and chatting
with people until they discover this whole new side to it.
Nasirah: Oh yeah. Especially now, considering we’re the “Facebook generation”, there are all sorts of new ways to use it.
Me: Exactly. Another great thing about Facebook and revolutions is that it creates a ripple effect.
Nasirah: What’s the ripple effect?
Me: I mean, when Group A sees Group B’s method of action for change becoming successful, then most likely Group A will follow along and use the same method.
Nasirah: Oh, so kind of like a bandwagon!
Me: Totally. People are all like, "Hey! That country just got a new President, I want one too now…PROTEST!” But hey, if that’s what you and the rest of the country believe, then go for it! But on a serious note, Egypt’s neighboring country, Tunisia had actually carried out protests first; also organized it by Facebook.
Nasirah: Oh really? I’m surprised that wasn’t covered in the media as much as Egypt was.
Me: It’s a bit strange. There’s much research on it indicating why. But in my personal opinion I don’t think people and the conventional media at that time believed that the protests and political reform had much to do with social media. But either way, this is an important matter. Personally, I believe that involvement in international affairs and raising awareness should be a universal quality in everyone who has access to this information.
Nasirah: Yes, I agree with you. There are so many people, even today, that have no idea what’s going on in their own country, so never mind the rest of the world.
Me: Yes, exactly. I think that’s unfortunate. We live in a time a day when all sorts of international uprisings, tragedies, and affairs are constantly occurring, yet some people are still choosing to turn a blind eye.
Nasirah: Plus, it’s not even about getting physically involved that counts, it’s the fact that it’s raising awareness about these issues that need and deserve to be discussed. Raising awareness itself is pretty much getting involved.
Me: Definitely. Especially since we’re the “Facebook generation” we, of all people should be the most involved. This is a serious matter.
Transition Music: “Darbuka Loops” By Ajubamusic
In Nahed Elantawy and Julie Wiest’s research on Facebook and The Egyptian Revolution, they say that “Social media technologies have been used especially in organizing and implementing collective activities, promoting a sense of community, creating less-confined political spaces, connecting with other social movements, and publicizing causes to gain support from the global community.” (1213).
(Full article on the link below)
So, what they mean by this is that Facebook became a place for this large group of Egyptians with similar thoughts about their government to come together and raise awareness about this horrible political issue.
In reality, Facebook is just this tiny Internet page on a laptop or phone screen. But, the important parts to look at in this page are the major things that are being shared to convince other people to come and take a stand with them.
Anne Alexander and Miriyam Aouragh are two other scholars that strongly support the idea of Facebook providing information to people so that they would be able to enhance the protests. In they article they say: “Social networking sites in particular formed an online public space for political discussion where opinions were shaped and at times decision were taken. The collective nature of dissent was highly visible in online environments such as Facebook, which also provided tools to facilitate interaction, allowing individuals to get answers to questions they would find difficult to answer offline”. (1348).
(Full article available on the link below)
Transition Music: “Abu Dhabi” By Xserra
In an article by Brett Niekerk, Kiru Pillay, and Manoj Maharaj, they believe that ICT’s most definitely played a role in the distribution of information amongst protestors on Facebook. They said: “It is obvious that ICTs were used as a communication tool to circulate information to change the views and wills of both local and international audiences in the Egyptian revolution. ICT usage also provided a point of co-ordination for the initial protests. The social media, such as Facebook, served to originally distribute the news of and the reasoning behind the protests.” (1412).
(View full article in the link below)
Transition: Music: “Middle East Ethnic Tribal Percussion” By Roanian
As I mentioned earlier, a lot of scholars believed that Facebook played a vital role in the Egyptian Revolution. However, others believed that Facebook did play a role, but they also believe that the Egyptian peoples’ perseverance and courage was the essential aspect of the revolution.
In an article written by Serajul Bhuiyan, he suggests, “Egyptian protestors used Facebook and Twitter to get people out on the streets within the country and YouTube to let the world know what was happening. By using tools that the regime underestimated, activists were able to spread hope, not only to Egyptians but also worldwide, encouraging other repressed populations to attempt something similar in their countries.” (15). Bhuiyan also indicates that Facebook does not deserve all the credit it has been receiving for the revolution. He says, “We must remember, that without the perseverance of the Egyptian people, the revolution would have never happened. (15).
(Click link below to read the full article)
Transition Music: “Open Doors” By Coordinate X
I completely agree with his statement. For a long time, Egyptians wanted to break free from the poverty and corruption they were living under, but they just needed that one push. That’s where Facebook came in. When they saw all this information being shared, all these gruesome photos and brutal videos, it really opened their eyes to reality. As most of the scholars I mentioned earlier even said, it was because of these photos and videos, they became fed up with the government, and motivated to go out and protest.
*Transition Music: “Oriental Sample” By Burnerman *
I actually decided to conduct a small survey to see what other people had to say about Facebook and political reforms. It was nothing big, just a small survey of approximately 10 people.
Each person who did completely the survey stated that they have attended some kind of event that was organized through Facebook.
Almost 90% of the surveyed people said that the event was a protest.
60% of the people who attended a protest said that the protest was against a political aspect
Last but not least, half of the people who attended a protest against a political aspect admitted to have been motivated to attend because of a photo they say. The other half were motivated by a video.
Voice clips of people who were surveyed saying “Photo” / “Video”
Transition Music: “Drums” By Xserra
And lastly, in my opinion, considered the most important, we have Wael Ghonim’s outlook on the entire revolution.
In a 2011 interview with CNN, Wael Ghonim was asked: “Why you do think Facebook helped get people in Egypt free?” Ghonim responded: “This revolution started online. This revolution started on Facebook. This revolution started in June 2010 when hundreds of thousands of Egyptians started collaborating content. We would post a video on Facebook that would be shared by 60,000 people on their walls within a few hours. I've always said that if you want to liberate a society just give them the Internet”.
Sound Effect: “Explosion” By Cydon
(To read the whole story, click on the following link below)
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/11/egypt-facebook-revolution-wael-ghonim_n_822078.html http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/02/11/egypt-facebook-revolution-wael-ghonim_n_822078.html*) *
Nasirah: “If you want to liberate a society, just give them the Internet”. (Ghonim, 2011). Wow, those are really powerful words.
Me: They really are. In one angle, the Internet is a place to shop, or play games, chat, or a bunch of other things. Who’d ever thought technology would come this far?
Nasirah: So far that people are starting revolutions in their own country!
Me: Well, what can I say? That’s Facebook.
Nasirah: You know what? We should start a revolution.
Me: Yup! Now that’s what you’d call “using Facebook wisely”
Ending Music: “Arabian Short Sound” By Soughtaftersounds
Helal, Maged. Tahrir Square Country. Digital image. Flickr. N.p., 09 Feb. 2011. Web. https://www.flickr.com/photos/magdino20/5471981319/
"Wael Ghonim." Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, 2014. Web.
Stepanova, Ekaterina. "The Role of Information Communication Technologies in the “Arab Spring”." PONARS Eurasia 159 (2011): 1-6. Institute of World Economy and International Relations. Web.
Eltantawy, Nahed, and Julie Wiest. "The Arab Spring: Social Media in the Egyptian Revolution: Reconsidering Resource Mobilization Theory." *International Journal of Communication* 5 (2011): 1207-224. University of Southern California. Web.
Aouragh, Miriyam, and Anne Alexander. "The Egyptian Experience: Sense and Nonsense of the Internet Revolution." *International Journal of Communication* 5 (2011): 1344-358. University of Southern California. Web.
Niekerk, Brett, Kiru Pillay, and Manoj Maharaj. "Analyzing the Role of ICTs in the Tunisian and Egyptian Unrest from an Information Warfare Perspective." International Journal of Communication 5 (2011): 1406-416. University of Southern California. Web.
Bhuiyan, Serajul I., Social Media and Its Effectiveness in the Political Reform Movement in Egypt, Middle East Media Educator, 1(1), 2011, 14-20.
Smith, C. “Egypt's Facebook Revolution: Wael Ghonim Thanks The Social Network.” The Huffington Post. (2011).Web.