ProjectX Social Media and News

State vs Cyberspace

Recent events in Egypt have shown once more how – new media well-applied – can pose a serious challenge for well-established dictators such as Mubarak. But it is not – how people like to believe – Twitter or Facebook which support activists, but the Internet in general.

What is done in those countries is great. The Internet is used to organize among themselves in order to bring political change – good or bad, who knows. It gives the voice to the otherwise silent. Does it? Well… the pre-requisite of participating in this scheme is Internet access and the knowledge how to use it. Depending on the country and its infrastructure it already creates a gap between have’s and have-not’s. If you do not have access to the Internet then of course you would not be told via Twitter to go there and demonstrate. Same if you don’t know how to use Twitter or Facebook. Having passed that state, I would assume that most of the people on the streets are not there because someone told them via Twitter or Facebook but just because they heard from others what is going on – or they saw them walking by their houses. If one person is communicated to over his FB account then, maybe he brings 20-40 other people with him of which only one has to have access. Therefore, blocking Twitter and Facebook by the government/ Internet Service Provider (state-owned) does not change a lot. If I had their Facebook or Twitter accounts and knew what was coming I would have also secured the email addresses from my conspirators-in-crime. Blocking email is much more difficult and will and has to result in a fully-fledged Internet-access restriction. Thus, it is easier to just block Facebook and Twitter. That is why I am saying that it is not due to these social networks that demonstrations have been manifested themselves in such an intensity. That has been possible as early as Internet was accessible in that country. Just by Emails or Instant Messengers which are also more difficult to restrict that social networking sites. Point here is: It was really about the people and what happened in Tunis which gave them power, will and also the opportunity to rise.

Luckily for those on the streets, the Mubarak regime did not really take note of that. Instead of completely blocking Internet-access and mobile phone coverage, they blocked a few major social networking sites also only from the government-owned ISPs. That will not fly. Now it is too late anyway. People who met might have discussed already alternative methods of organizing themselves because they experienced the blocking of websites already. At that point it is too late. The Egypt leaders should have taken China and its Great Firewall as an example how to deal with upcoming issues like that. They already knew that the New Media poses a thread to their established regime. Too bad for them, I guess.

In the end it is all about the people…going from door to door and looking for potential allies would have also down the trick…in times of great need and terror it is about guts and not technology.

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