Facebook's role in Egypt's #jan25 uprising

Facebook was more involved in ensuring protection for the Facebook groups organizing the January 25 and subsequent protests than is known, NewsBeast says:

Email records obtained by Newsweek, conversations with NGO executives who work with Facebook to protect activist pages, and interviews with administrators of the We Are All Khaled Said page reveal the social media juggernaut’s awkward balancing act. They show a company struggling to address the revolutionary responsibilities thrust upon it—and playing a more involved role than it might like to admit.

On the night of January 25, Richard Allan, Facebook’s director of policy for Europe, responded to the worried administrator. “We have put all the key pages into special protection,” he wrote in an email. A team, he said, “is monitoring activity from Egypt now on a 24/7 basis.”

It's an interesting story involving coordination by Facebook executives, Egyptian activists, and Washington-based democracy advocates who push pressing issues onto the executives.

Syria and Facebook, cont.

The Guardian's Ian Black has this important tidbit on Syria post-Facebook unbanning:

Syrian users have now been blocked from entering the word "proxy" in any search engine and any page with the word "proxy" in the URL address will not open. Syrians, in short, have lost internet anonymity. "Under the guise of lifting restrictions on the internet, the authorities have in fact tightened their control," warns Malik al-Abdeh of London-based Barada TV. "No sane internet user will enter the now unblocked Facebook and visit a page that contains criticisms of the regime, or, worse still, a page that organises demonstrations as the Egyptians and Tunisians have done. The irony is that Syrian internet users are actually better off under the old system. Unblocking Facebook while cracking down on proxies and https, and maintaining the same censorship apparatus run by the secret police, is totally meaningless." Not much sign, then, of a revival of the short-lived Damascus spring of Bashar al-Assad's early days.

 

2 Comments

Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.

Facebook and Middle Eastern politics

Perhaps it's common in other parts of the world, but I am struck to what extent Facebook has become an integral part of Arab politics — a place where people organize, debate and even government officials weigh in. There is of course the ElBaradei for President Facebook group in Egypt, which from 65,000 members the day ElBaradei returned to Cairo to 176,000 this morning. It had been preceded by the 6 April strike group. And they have a plan for more:

The ElBaradei Facebook group plan for world domination.

In Morocco, a campaign started in defense of a Facebook user who had set up a mock fan page for the king's brother, Moulay Rachid.

I just came across this news item from Saudi Arabia about how its minister of culture used Facebook to squash rumors of book bans at the Riyadh book fair. It seems Facebook is more convincing medium for PR than the ministry's pres release:

Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat- Just hours after the Saudi Ministry of Culture and Media denied rumours that Abdo Khal’s novel ‘Spewing Sparks as Big as Castles’ was withdrawn from the Riyadh International Book Fair, Minister of Culture and Information Abdulaziz Khoja also dismissed other rumours about the fair via his personal Facebook page.
There are rumours that books by the prominent Saudi intellect Turki al Hamad have been banned at the fair and that the Al Jamal publishing house has been shut, which was denied by Khoja who said, “Al Jamal publishing house has not been shut, and I have just returned from visiting it. It has also been rumoured that Dr. Turki al Hamad’s books have all been banned, but the truth of the matter is that the publishing house that publishes his work did not bring his books to the fair. Therefore, this rumour is false.”
Despite that the Ministry immediately reacted by denying the successive rumours about the fair, they continued to spread. There are two possible sources of the rumours; the owners of publishing houses who use rumours to market a specific book, and internet websites that contribute to spreading false news about the book fair.

Riyadh, Asharq Al-Awsat- Just hours after the Saudi Ministry of Culture and Media denied rumours that Abdo Khal’s novel ‘Spewing Sparks as Big as Castles’ was withdrawn from the Riyadh International Book Fair, Minister of Culture and Information Abdulaziz Khoja also dismissed other rumours about the fair via his personal Facebook page.
There are rumours that books by the prominent Saudi intellect Turki al Hamad have been banned at the fair and that the Al Jamal publishing house has been shut, which was denied by Khoja who said, “Al Jamal publishing house has not been shut, and I have just returned from visiting it. It has also been rumoured that Dr. Turki al Hamad’s books have all been banned, but the truth of the matter is that the publishing house that publishes his work did not bring his books to the fair. Therefore, this rumour is false.”
Despite that the Ministry immediately reacted by denying the successive rumours about the fair, they continued to spread. There are two possible sources of the rumours; the owners of publishing houses who use rumours to market a specific book, and internet websites that contribute to spreading false news about the book fair.

Can anyone think of more examples of Facebook playing a role in official politics or opposition movements in the region?

Sponsored links:

You can check out our latest 642-165 exam kit and 70-682 exam dumps written by our certified teams to help you pass. You can also purchase testking 70-290 dumps, audio exam of testking CISSP and testking 350-029 study guide.

5 Comments

Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.

There is no Facebook fatwa

There probably should be — or at least a fatwa against people who use Facebook as an alternative to email, thus adding another thing to check — but the report going around about al-Azhar issuing a fatwa against Facebook does not appear to be true. Marc Lynch has done the public service of debunking the story, so take heed.

1 Comment

Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.

Links for 10.26.09 to 10.27.09

LRB · Nicolas Pelham: Diary | Nic Pelham's diary about Gaza. ✪ Almasry Alyoum | NDP Talks Youth | Second in a series on youth and the NDP in Egypt: “We have to use the Internet, especially with so many people trying to turn our achievements into failures and to tarnish the reputation of public symbols. We have to be present online to correct those misconceptions.” Now who could they be talking about? ✪ Almasry Alyoum| Gamal Mubarak: Nepotism "Unknown To Private Sector" | In this story, Gamal says nepotism "is part of Egyptian culture." You don't say. ✪ Chomsky Receives Highest Pentagon Honor | Chomsky book "Interventions" banned in Gitmo. ✪ YouTube - Slackistan Trailer | This is a good and funny idea - you could do it in the Arab world, too. ✪ Inanities: The Gamal Show | About Gamal's Sharek event: "The Gamal Show is Gamal Mubarak’s attempt to convince us that he’s Barack Obama." ✪ Bakchich: Interroger des… interrogatoires | Accounts of police interrogations of non-fasters in Morocco, interrogates them about Abou Bakr Jamai (prominent editor forced into exile), and more. Thoroughly depressing. ✪ Arab Media & Society | The end of the beginning: The failure of April 6th and the future of electronic activism in Egypt | About online activism, its failure so far, and how to move beyond cynicism. ✪ Almasry Alyoum | Gamal Mubarak And The Power Of Web 2.0 | First in a series of articles about the NDP's efforts to attract young Egyptians to politics. This one focuses on Gamal Mubarak's "Sharek" (Participate) online Q&A event. ✪ J Street's Ben-Ami On Zionism and Military Aid to Israel - Jeffrey Goldberg | A very revealing interview of J Street's Jeremy Ben-Ami which conirms my doubts about the whole project. ✪ Morocco press freedom on the decline, RSF study shows (Magharebia.com) | A marked increase in fines, imprisonement and intimidation of the press. ✪ Dar Al Hayat - A Presidential Battle without Candidates | Muhammad Salah on the Egyptian presidency.
Read More

Links for 07.21.09 to 07.22.09

جريدة الراية -مجرد سؤال .. ماذا تريد القاهرة من دارفور المنتدى | Qatari columnist complains "what does Egypt want from Darfur?", says Egypt is trying to start a separate track for negotiations even though Qatar's track working well. The Egyptians certainly hate seeing Qatar getting busy in their near-abroad. The List: The Middle East's Most Powerful Spooks | Foreign Policy | It's missing a few... will try to work on a complete list. Also not sure whether Assef Shakwat is still at the top of his game in Damascus. Facebook | Protest Facebook's categorisation of Israeli settlements as "Israel" | Tell Facebook to correct itself. From gods to garbage dwellers | GlobalPost | On Egypt's cats. Israeli funding angers filmmaker | "ENGLISH filmmaker Ken Loach has withdrawn his film Looking for Eric from the Melbourne International Film Festival because the festival receives funding from the Israeli Government."
Read More

Links February 6th to February 7th

Automatically posted links for February 6th through February 7th:

Read More