Digital Media Project Final Reflection

Sheldon Jackson
Professor Christopher Micklethwait
CULF 3331.10 Fall 2014
4 December 2014

Social Media’s Revolutionary Influence

This semester is my final semester and I was excited to be able to take a class on the Middle East because I feel as though it is a subject I did not get to tap into very much through my time at St. Edwards. When beginning my digital research project, I began to reflect on what stories or themes that were stuck in my brain the most. I kept coming back to Egypt no matter what I did. This section of the course was filled with readings, both historical and personal, that provoke emotion within me. Besides the Syrian uprising, Egypt was one of the most intense Arab uprisings in the middle east. This would kick off my digital project and give me a focus as I began to search for insightful articles.

My nest step was to focus in on a specific topic related to Egypt, and figure out what made this uprising more prominent in my mind. From the very beginning of this class we talked about how the uprising in Egypt was driven largely by the countries’ youth. Because I am a young person myself, I began to fantasize about what it must have been like to have the courage to go up against a regime rooted in so much history and elder influence. In large, the uprising was associated with social media. Social media created a platform for revolting youth, both inside Egypt and out, to communicate the unjust they were seeing on a daily basis. Because Egypt has such a varying demographic as far as religious practice and political ideology, communicating online became a safer way to speak about things that could be shunned in real life interactions. During the 18-day Tahrir Square uprising in early 2011, social networking websites, like Twitter and Facebook, provided anti-regime activists with a tool to organize mass rallies while also providing platforms for articulating political demands. In summarizing my findings, I can create three main topics I would like to discuss and analyze. First, how social media helped kickstart the Egyptian Revolution, the pros and cons of social media in today’s internationally connected world, and what negative effects social media has had for Egypt and the Middle East.

In beginning to discuss how social media helped Egypt uprise, I would like to quote a reading we read for class out of our assigned book called The Battle for the Arab Spring by Lin Noueihad and Alex Warren. In the third chapter, titled “The Media Revolution”, there is a quote from an Egyptian activist named Wael Ghonim. In 2011 Ghonim said, “If you want to free a society just give them internet access because…the young crowds are all going to go out and hear and see the unbiased media, see the truth about other nations and their own nations and they’re going to be able to communicate and collaborate together…Definitely, this is the internet revolution. I’ll call it Revolution 2.0” (Noueihed, Warren 44). After reading this I did more research on Ghonim, who is a 29-year-old Google marketing executive. The article I found, titled “Spring Awakening: How an Egyptian Revolution Began on Facebook”, is about Ghonim’s experience with finding an image sent out via Facebook of Khaled Said. Khaled Said is someone we have read about for class in chapter five of Battle for the Arab Spring, titled “Egypt: The Pharaoh Falls”.  During the Egyptian uprising Said was beaten by Egyptian police, his picture was posted and this inspired many, and in this case Ghonim, to take action and help out Egyptian revolutionaries from inside and outside Egypt. Ghonim is Egyptian born, yet he lives in Dubai now, and he was angered by this photo so he decided to create a Facebook page entitled “We Are All Khaled Said”. His page got a lot of traction and he began setting up rallying information. He was eventually arrested by secret police, but his mark was already made. Once information on the internet is out, it’s really out. This is a great example of international out reach through social media that helped Egypt fight the good fight. This type of attitude toward social media and the youth of Egypt is inspirational. It is great to know that young activists recognize their biased media coverage. The internet worked as a free zone to be able to communicate the ugly truth.

Generally social media is thought as a tool for “socializing” or light-hearted conversation, but obviously using the Egyptian Revolution as an example, there are more significant ways it can be used. Scholars have a hard time finding ways to study these types of movements due to the fact that they are unable to effectively find exact origins and conclusions for information. When looking at my topic this way, I believe it’s a way to see social media and its usage as a contemporary world issue. In an article I found about the pro and cons of social media, from, there is a quote about all the benefits social media has on our world. It says, “Proponents of social networking sites say that the online communities promote increased interaction with friends and family; offer teachers, librarians, and students valuable access to educational support and materials; facilitate social and political change; and disseminate useful information rapidly” (“Social Networking” 1). On the pro side of this resource, it also goes into detail about these benefits stating that social networking sites spread information faster than any other media. Social media sites allow people to improve their relationships and make new friends, sites facilitate face-to-face interaction, sites increase voter participation, facilitates political change, is good for the economy, and empowers individuals to make social change and do social good on a community level.

Social media allows for quick, easy dissemination of public health and safety information from reputable sources. Also, social media can help disarm social stigmas, “crowdsourcing” and “crowdfunding” on social media allows people to collectively accomplish a goal, provides academic research to a wider audience, and allows many people access to previously unavailable educational resources (“Social Networking” 1).

On the other side, the more negative effects of social media can include: the spread of unreliable and false information, the lack of privacy exposes users to government and corporate intrusions. Also, criminals use social media to commit and promote crimes, social media can endanger the military and journalists, and sites can facilitate “cyberbullying”. Because all the information on the internet is not credited, sites encourage amateur advice and self-diagnosis for health problems which can lead to harmful or life-threatening results. Also it is often seen that social media aids the spread of hate groups, and because social media posts cannot be completely deleted, all information posted can have unintended consequences like site users experiencing security attacks such as hacking, identity theft, and viruses (“Social Networking” 1).

After learning about the Egyptian Revolution, its use of social media, and how social media’s affects the world on a generic level, I was able to compile my knowledge in order to research farther into the negative effects social media has had on Egypt. In an article titled “In Post-Revolution Egypt, Social Media Shows Dark Side”, from the Inter Press Service News Agency’s website, a story of how more current information on social media sites has tainted the “media revolution”. Egypt’s Supreme Military Council, for example, which ruled the country from Mubarak’s ouster until the election of President Mohammed Morsi last year, continues to issue official statements and declarations via Facebook. However, this article explains that, “The same social networks that activists used in unison to bring down Mubarak are now being used to score short-term political goals, manipulate public opinion, and even incite violence” (Morrow, al-Omrani 1). This website also provides quotes from an interview with Adel Abdel-Saddiq, a social media expert at the Cairo-based Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies. In a quote from Abdel-Saddiq, he says, “Since the revolution, we’ve seen it [social media sites] used to incite protesters against police, the secular opposition against Islamist groups, and Muslims against Christians and vice versa” (Morrow, al-Omrani 1). He explains that they do this by posting to social media under prominent political figure’s names to provide false information that they hope will ignite violence. The fight to divide Christians and Muslims is strong in Egypt. Abdel-Saddiq blames this dangerous state of affairs on the lack of legal oversight of social media platforms in Egypt, where “laws against libel and slander only apply to traditional media – i.e., television, radio and newspapers – but not to the Internet” (Morrow, al-Omrani 1).

In conclusion, I would like to reflect on the thoughts and questions I have after my research. I believe all dominant perspectives on globalization could benefit from expanding usage of social media. Social media can connect markets, simulate economies, honor culture, create new culture, and intertwine networks or people for the better. Because I have mentioned my struggle with negative aspects of social media in class and experience it on a daily basis, I would like to address the issue of false internet information by asking the question: should social media be regulated by law and or be overseen by national and or international governments or non-governmental groups? I view this as a double edged sword. I feel like the openness of the internet is great, but I also think that have false information perpetually shoved in your face daily promotes apathy towards all types of news, true or not. Having more monitoring means less freedom and more truth? This could possibly be true, but I don’t know if I would agree with lessening my freedom on the internet. Also I would like to know what would these laws and policies would look like and how would they be enforced. Would these potential new laws and policies violate the right to free speech or press? Could these laws only be functional and effective in a democratic society? Does trying to prevent harm via social media, through means of policy, monitoring and consequence, cancel out the benefits of social media seen in examples like the Egyptian Revolution? Questions like these may never have an answer, but I have been able to critically analyze their significance to the future. The internet has globalized our world on a large scale, brought about revolutions and tragedy, and I believe these questions I have about the future of social media will have to be addressed eventually. Whatever the answer may be, I hope freedoms and humanity are not effected negatively.

Influential Sources:

Morrow, al-Omrani

Noueihed, Warren

“Social Networking”

Digital Media Project Post #10

How State Failure Is Deepening Class Tensions in Egypt | Sara Khorshid

“Egypt’s revolution must continue – Opinion – Al Jazeera English”

I chose both of these articles because they were both very current and helped me develop more of an idea of how Egyptians are seeing their life and the world at a more current spot in time. The first article I explored was based on how the failing state is causing even more tension between social classes. It explains how Egypt will continue to struggle due to unjust practices based on class prejudices. Without social thought being cohesive, Egypt may never be able to reach a stable state. The second article I chose was an artistic take on the Egyptian revolution, and was posted pretty recently. It’s from an Egyptian musician who was actually involved in Tahrir Square protests. His article talks about all of the simple things you could be missing out on from reading a less artistic article. He mentions all the song and dialogue he experienced and how that carried the uprising in so many ways.



Digital Media Project Post #9

Why social media needs to be taught in high school | VentureBeat | Social 

Social Media Day – Egypt

This two articles are completely social media focused. The first article I chose was about the argument of should high school student be taught about social media. I believe this is not going to be an argument for very much longer, due to the fact that social media and the internet is taking over everyone’s life. It is extremely integrated into almost everything we do now and it doesn’t show signs of stopping. If people were educated about the internet and the power of just one post, people in more remote places could put out messages to the world to help unite us all and find justice for the issues that exist. I also see this as a positive because we could be warned about issues related to cyber-security, and prevent agendas from being pushed on unknowing peoples of the world. The second thing i tagged was a Facebook page from Egypt celebrating social media day. This is a great example of Egyptians coming together as a community to celebrate social media and how its helped the Middle East.



Digital Media Project Post #8

Blair’s doctrine in Egypt: the ‘anti-terrorism’ industry and counter-revolution 

The Muslim Brotherhood and the Future of Political Islam in Egypt

 Both of these articles have to do with either the UK’s affairs in Egypt or the article was produced by the UK. The first article is about the UK Prime Minister, Tony blair and his plan to help Sisi reform the economy through tactics like “anti-terrorism”. This article critiques this Blair’s methods, saying that they only promote the status quo, which happens to be filled with violence. This article goes on to talk about the difficulties involved with identifying and defining terrorism in general and techniques used to combat it at different levels, and how this could possibly be of use to Egypt right now. The second article is from a UK news group that is trying to predict the future of political Islam. They believe that there is only a hand full of option that could be chosen from. This article is a general assessment of the political future of Egypt.




Digital Media Project Post #7

Egypt activist’s suicide grips social media – Yahoo Maktoob News

ArchaeoVenturers – media

These two articles are strongly rooted in social media and the media in general. The first story I have found is a sad one. This article explains a tragic suicidal death of a young Egyptian activist. She was in such a depressive state after the uprisings that she decided to take her own life. The news of this suicide spread just as fast as any positive news, if not faster. It is said in this article that a large percentage of Egyptians are depressed because they see all the chaos around them still and are losing hope for the future. The second article I have Diigoed is about how a U.S. citizen might view whats going on in Egypt currently. This article goes back to the Civil Rights movement and the fight for free speech. This article talks about how many Americans wish they could give Egyptians the freedoms that are guaranteed to them everyday, and how they seem fundamentally right to us. A great bridge between historical American ideologies and Egyptian Uprisings.

Digital Media Project Post #6

“Online Activism to Real-World Activism: Social Media’s Role in the Egyptian Revolution of 2011 and its Aftermath”

“Egyptians visit Washington to defend their ‘revolution'”

The first article I picked really shows how social media can be a great tool for change and a not so good tool for change. It goes into statistical evidence to show different numbers on social media interaction. It talks about the limits the social media aspects of the revolution had, and how they were dealt with. This article addresses the issue of anonymous activism and “perverting activism”. My second article I’ve chosen is basically an article that discusses meeting between Egyptians and U.S. authorities, that discuss the Egyptian Revolution and critique its methods and outcomes. The main thing I took from this article was the critique that Morsi’s rule ending may have not been the smarting move according to some U.S. authorities. These meeting both sides attend are basically Egypt defending what it has done and plotting for a successful future.

Digital Project Post #5

Hard Evidence: how does false information spread online?

Use Of Social Media Leads To News Outlets Providing False Information – WIBW News Now!

These two articles are great as a pair because they both talk about the downfalls social media has when it comes to the idea of fabrication. Often we use our social media outlets to get information at the drop of a hat, hoping that the source is credible and the articles aren’t fabricated. The first article talks about how this dilemma is identified by NGOs and what they plan on doing to prevent false information spreading. Both articles believe social media is be a great tool. They never once say that its not worth it, but give several examples of how social media has blurred lines and create chaos. They also give great examples of using social media for benefit, like suing it to find Boston Marathon bombing subjects.

Digital Project Post #4

Can the Arab revolutions survive Syria and Egypt? – Opinion – Al Jazeera English

Egypt’s stake in the Syrian revolution | openDemocracy


These two articles present a great comparison and intertwining of revolutions in the Middle East. These happen to be about Syria and Egypt and how they relate to each other in terms of “Arab Revolutions”. The first article discusses the seriousness of both revolutions and whether or not the Arab Revolutions can make it through these two uprisings. This article explains that Syria has the most carnage out of all the uprisings. I fill like this article, paired with the second, are a great way to bridge the gap between these revolutions. More than the book does, these articles give you a better idea of how the Middle East in general is merging together to fight in some ways. The second article mentions an instance of helpfulness when describing how Syrian activists would go in Cairo Egypt during the revolutions to use Egyptians media to get word out about Syrians troubles.

Digital Media Project Post #3

From Syria to Ukraine, social media opens up warfare
By: Reuters

Timothy Spangler: Ukraine’s brief social-media coup – The Orange County RegisterTimothy Spangler: Ukraine’s brief social-media coup – The Orange County Register


These two Diigo posts are relating to the “revolution” happening in the Ukraine currently. The first article listed is a great story about a blogger from England who was involved in strikes via social media for the Syrians revolution and now is currently using his techniques for Ukraine. This article is a great way to look at two different examples of social media being used for social change in two different places. The second article on here is basically an overview of what is going on in Ukraine right now and how social media is being used to catch the Russian government in lies. They said they weren’t getting involved, but now people suspect that the Russian military is fighting alongside local authority because their Facebook pages had post that were geotagged by Russian soldiers inside Ukraine.

Digital Media Project Post #2

“Social Networking”

“In Post-Revolution Egypt, Social Media Shows Dark Side”
Adam Morrow and Khaled Moussa al-Omrani

These two post are a great combination for showing how social media can also be a negative thing when spreading information for change. The first article mentioned talks about positive and negatives of communicating through social media on a general level and discusses the similarities and differences it has to communicating in real life. This article’s information would likely be used in the earlier sections of my reflection project. The second article focuses on how social media has taken a turn for the worse for Egypt after the revolution. Rumors and lies are being spread in order to make people fight and persuade people to do things that groups with agendas want. The lack of legal monitoring is leading people to believe things that are not true in order to carry out actions, that in some cases are violent and detrimental. I would most likely be using this information towards the end of my reflection, but before a conclusion, to balance out the ideas of my project.