On January 25 2011, a public holiday to commemorate the police forces, Egyptians took to the streets on what was called a “day of rage”. They called for the, and I use the word knowing full well what it means, abdication of President Hosni Mubarak, whose reign had lasted 30 years.
Facebook and Twitter, two of the most widely used forms of social media in Egypt and indeed, the world, was the “weapon of choice” for protesters to organize their efforts to overthrow President Mubarak.
On January 28, the Egyptian government set out to disrupt internet services to interrupt the protestors efforts. Here’s how they did it. Services have been partially restored on February 2.
Today, Day 12 of the Cairo unrest, Facebook has become a slogan and euphemism for press and media freedom in Egypt, and surely, the stepping down of President Mubarak.
The online movement not only helps organize political gatherings, but also provides information to journalists on the ground, who then bring news stories to the world.
While it is unsure whether Egypt might take their first real steps towards democracy in 30, and some might even go so far as to say 5000 years (during its storied 5000-year history, Egypt has enjoyed precisely eleven years of genuine democracy. Those eleven years corresponded with the presidency of of the late Anwar al-Sadat), one thing is for sure: social media will never be viewed in the same light again.
Popular uprising is a powerful catalyst for change, and I hope we see constitutional changes soon in Egypt. For this author, that is the only true way to see real change, otherwise, all this chaos would amount to nothing but a speck in Egypt’s rich history.