Originally posted at socialaxcess.com
The revolt in Egypt has shades of the Green Revolution of 2009 in Iran. Like then, the revolution has been supported and promoted by social media like Twitter, YouTube and Facebook. Iran cracked down hard, blocking many IP addresses and making the internet so slow that it was difficult to use, but Egypt has gone one better and shut down all internet and cell phone access in and out of the country. No doubt they want to avoid the bad international press and prevent the internet from creating another martyr like Neda.
The protests in Tunisia earlier this month were also organized through social media, to the point that the government was hacking people’s Facebook accounts to try to stop it. And it’s not only Arab countries that are worried about the impact of these Twitter Revoltionaries, in China the social media results for “egypt” are blocked entirely, to prevent any social unrest there.
President Obama has called for a lift of the ban on the internet and of social media sites in particular.
I also call upon the Egyptian government to reverse the actions that they’ve taken to interfere with access to the Internet, with cellphone service and to social networks that do so much to connect people in the 21st century.
While there is much to tout about the democratizing power of Twitter, it’s hard not to also note that the government is using it to track down and punish people. While Tunisia’s dictator was forced to step down and the blogger revolutionaries are hailed as heroes, bloggers from the Green Revolution are still being hanged in Iran.
Social media is a powerful tool, no matter who is using it. The revolutionaries have the advantage of being young and therefore much more familiar with the online world and governments are quickly learning that it’s very difficult to have both the internet and restricted communications.