Friday, August 26, 2011

Social Media Role in Jan25 Revolution

We hear on a daily basis claims that social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter were the real force behind mass protests in Tahrir Square that triggered January 25th revolution in Egypt.

However, the role of social media networks was overestimated for below 3 reasons:

1- The Escape of the Tunisian President:
In 7th of January 2011 while Tunisian unrest was heating, the famous Egyptian Facebook page of We All Khaled Saed published a post saying the revolution will damage Egypt!

Once Tunisian president Zine Al-Abdine Ben Ali had left Tunisia escaping to Saudi Arabia, the entire private media coverage had changed in Egypt. The perception of people in Egypt had been prepared that it is possible to remove Mubarak.

2-The Mass Offline Media:
Calls to protest in 25th of January were spreading over social media in Egypt, that's true.
However, political movements and opposition parties all supported those calls.

The key factor here is the media coverage for those calls, not the calls themselves. Many daily newspapers and TV shows were covering protest calls, and preparation activities by parties and political movements.

The ruling party call to protest supporting Mubarak added another buzz to January 25 protests.

3-Egypt's Internet and Facebook Low Penetration Rates:
A key reason to believe that social media networks role was overestimated is the well-known internet and Facebook low penetration rates in Egypt.

New Egypt Consulting is a social media marketing company based in Cairo since 2011.
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