Bassel Khartabil: Imprisoned Unjustly or Not?

How far would you go to do the right thing, even if it meant going to prison for it? That was one of many questions I asked myself if I was in same position as him. As I read a couple articles about this guy and was truly amazed once I learned more about him. Through reading these articles I learned some basic information. I learned he was born and raised in Syria, was an only child, gained an interest in computers and coding from his uncle. Furthermore I learned is he got a bachelors and a master’s degree. But I was truly surprised once I found about one of his major accomplishments to that region of the world. He helped bring more open-source programs and access to an area of the world where the internet is heavily censored and monitored. As well as help a popular open-source site he was working at called Creative Commons to translate the text and other information into Arabic. This in turn make this site more accessible and spanned countries instead of certain regions of one country. But when I was reading more about his history I learned more about the tragic turn about his eventual arrest and detainment. I felt some empathy for this individual, he went to great lengths to make peoples live better, but did it regardless if he was praised or unfortunately in this case imprisoned for it. That is very admirable of him and few people in this world have the convictions to do something right regardless of the number of obstacles in his way. So I was happy to learn he found someone to share his life with during his imprisonment and got married. But I also found out his troubles were not over, I learned shortly after he was moved to an undisclosed location for another special court hearing and no has heard from him since. So in conclusion this is another real life application of how far activists will go for social change, even if they have to pay the ultimate price for that change.

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Bassel Khartabil: Imprisoned Unjustly or Not?

Social Media used for protest: Good or Bad?

Is social media the best way to protest certain issues? This question was discussed indirectly through previous blog posts and in person. From reading this week’s articles and discussions, my immediate answer to this question has changed. At first I thought in order to create great political change was to have a laptop and an internet connection to do the job. But as read more and more background information about what factored and influenced these young people to rise up and fight for their rights. Once again I’m using the social revolution in Egypt during the beginning of 2011 as my frame of reference and tangible example for my argument. On one hand the social media networks like Facebook and Twitter. Were an amazing outlet to input, inform and discuss several issues the young people of Egypt were dealing with, issues like police brutality, corruption, right to peaceful assembly, etc. Another aspect of this way of protest was a more covert way to discuss among fellow protesters and able to send information of their struggle to the outside world to raise more awareness of what really is going on there. Last aspect this medium gave more impact was a easier way to rally others and keep track of fellow protesters through Facebook pages like “We are all Khaled Said”

On the other hand it has some potential pitfalls, one possible scenario is once the controlling government figures out that there using social networks to protest and showing pictures or videos of their horrible acts. They could in turn shut down localized feeds to those specific sites or shut down the whole Internet in the region altogether. Furthermore the postings, blogs and articles would not really solve the problem, only telling people that something is wrong. In order to make any sort change both long and short term. The protesters have to leave their tablets, smartphones and computers behind, take it to the streets and make that change happen for themselves. As the main admin of the “We are all Khaled Said” page Wael Ghonim continues to say in several interviews after the social revolution in Egypt. He continues to downplay his role and agrees whole heartedly that he was not the real hero. He explains the young people in the streets protesting in person about these issues are the real heroes.

To conclude I will discuss some of the possible ideas I have for my project I will work on with several others in the class. One idea is using a series of memes, PSA’s or Vines to make a satirical critique and raise awareness of these human rights issues in the Middle East. Another idea is to take a traditional approach and build a webpage on programs like Square-space to raise awareness and discuss about these issues.

Social Media used for protest: Good or Bad?

R-Shief Lecture

While I attended a lecture as one of the events I needed to attend to for one of my courses. At first I had no idea what it was and how it was connected to anything about digital activism. But some of my questions were answered as the lecture was being presented. I found out the basic information about R-Shief. It is a multi-layered program that collects, organizes and displays different types of data (keyword searches and hashtags) from Twitter. Than once the data is finally collected it is able to be graphed and displayed of the most common keywords being search and the spike in popularity of said keyword on any given time and day. The site collected data in several different languages like Spanish, English and Arabic.

Another aspect of this complex program is what is the overall purpose for this site? As well as who would use it and why? Some of those questions were answers in the general background history of the program. From what I’ve learned it is meant to be a research tool for academics and scholars regardless of discipline. It’s about research and gathering data of incoming trends, ideas and social norms happening in the Middle East. I found this very interesting and was given a sum up version on how it actually works through a couple of demonstrations.

Last element of this program I learned from the lecture was where they wanted to improve on and answered some questions from the audience. Their overall goal for this program is to continue to evolve and be able to actually track where these messages are coming from. As well as pulling the data from multiple social networks like Google, Yahoo, and Facebook just to name a few. Lastly their final goal is to have this program user friendly and be able to have it integrated at the university level and they’re in the beginning steps of integrating it here at UCSB. My final observation was a question someone asked about the program to possibly translate the original language to English? She replied no and displayed a strong opinion that translating should be put into the hands of real human translators instead of computers. Overall it was an interesting lecture of innovative technology and the multiple uses the program has to offer.

R-Shief Lecture

Social Media and Political Uprisings

Distorting Digital Censorship

In Ali and El-Sharnouby’s article dealing with Egypt’s youth and their actions against an authoritarian state through social media, they begin by stating that the youth make up most of the population. With the rise of social media activism such as the “We are all Khaled Said”(WAAKS) movement, the youth population has succeeded to cause political change with the fall of Mubarak while also failing to address the very issues that plague the young demographic, in which WAAKS unfortunately did not. The WAAKS Facebook page that sparked outrage to end the Emergency Law, which stated that the police practically held unchecked power, attacked the governmental policies that affected acts of police brutality and it ultimately succeeded.

Where the WAAKS failed was how it did not discuss the socioeconomic and political problems that affected the youth during their daily lives. This can be seen in the life of Khaled Said, the martyr and icon for the WAAKS movement. The social media movement had recreated and repackaged Khaled Said from a young man that was surrounded by a poor socio-economic environment, drug abuse, and loneliness to a middle class savvy intellectual that could resonate with the youth population online and across Egypt. All of the personal issues that Khaled faced in his own life became lost through his transformation into martyr for a political movement that succeeded in bringing attention to the Emergency Law while also not going far enough and only remaining focused on the outcome of Khaled’s life. Although I think the image change of Khaled Said was unintentional, the movement did ultimately achieve its goal of bringing widespread attention to police torture and towards more actions against ending the Emergency Rule. It is really unfortunate that Khaled Said’s personal life was washed away during WAAKS time and as time passes by, I believe more people will realize his personal sacrifice that evolved into a political statement.

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Social Media Networks and the Egyptian Revolution

Faris begins by explaining the importance of Social Media Networks such as Facebook and Twitter and how they are an incredibly powerful communications tool that can reach out to thousands of people in a matter of seconds. Social Media Networks allow activists to gather groups for rallies and protests without the need for money or expensive communications tools as Facebook and Twitter can be reached very easily through different mediums that are widely available. Additionally, it is also a powerful tool against authoritarian regimes. For example, the article states that social media was used to trick the Egyptian regime of planned protests and then they quickly relocated the protests last minute in order to avoid any violent or major conflicts with the government.

Another example that is shown in the article is through the Kefaya, which like the We Are All Khaled Said movement, protested against the end of the Emergency Rule. The Kefaya movement helped connect old protestor figures and new digital activists against the authoritarian regime. Anyone can start a digital activist movement and Faris states that even though the WAAKS Facebook page was started by a Google Executive in Dubai, these new technologies helped spark widespread political actions that probably would not have been possible if they did not exist. To me, this article looked at the positive effects that social media has and how it has transformed digital and street protests. What I found most interesting was when Faris stated that the January 25 protests could have taken place without the use of digital technologies, but that would have greatly changed the outcome. Communication mediums such as Twitter and Facebook that allow rapid conversation have no question elevated social and political involvement and uprisings against authoritarian regimes. egyptian_revolution_002_by_cyg_x_1-d38mdg0.jpg

-Ivan Palacio

Social Media and Political Uprisings

Social Media: A Catalyst For Change

social_media_and_the_egyption_revolution

Social media networks have given power to the individual, particularly the youth. With a digital tool that is safe and easy to use, activists have the ability to use social media networks to communicate with large numbers of people, and ignite a revolution, in authoritarian countries. This was the case for a repressive Egypt, where social movements like Kefaya (The Egyptian Movement for Change) and the April 6th Youth Movement, paved the way for one of the recent important digital forms of activism which was a catalyst for the Egyptian Revolution, the “We Are All Khaled Said” (WAAKS) youth movement.

For a long time, the youth in Egypt has had a tapestry of unanswered problems which has resulted from the ruling of the National Democratic Party (NDP) under Hosni Mubarak. The youth, that encompass the majority of the population, has been constantly marginalized and repressed both on the political and economic scale. But, the final straw came on June 6, 2010 when Khaled Said became a martyr after his gruesome death at the hands of two police officers.

Khaled Said’s death is one of the many unfortunate examples of Egypt’s harsh authoritarian regime, specifically pertaining to the Emergency Law. His death was one that many Egyptian citizens could relate to, thus the name of the famous Facebook page, “We Are All Khaled Said.” What made this campaign have such a national impact was the role that social media played. By using an online platform, like Facebook, to discuss the harsh realities that the Egyptian youth face, WAAKS created a campaign that was not going to be ignored.

Even though the WAAKS youth movement caused attention, as Ali and El-Sharnouby pointed out, “…people are still waiting for their problems to be addressed.” Even after the January 25 Revolution, Egyptian youths still face many unanswered problems including low-quality education, no steady income and employment, drug abuse, etc. There is definitely still so much to be done in the fight against Egypt’s repressive authoritarian regime but social media networks have illustrated that youth can use these digital tools to share their problems and move toward change.

 

Social Media: A Catalyst For Change

Social Media in the Middle East

After reading both articles, I learned the social impact of the Khaled Said campaign. Although I had heard about Khaled Said and the facebook campaign during the revolution in 2011 I was intrigued to learn about his life before his untimely death. I now understand why the campaign was so compelling and popular because Khaled Said was a young man suffering from the same difficulties that more than half the country was facing. Not only was he young and seeking to make a better life but he was a living example of the hardships of the youth seeking an education, jobs, and security for a good life. What I found interesting was that his death at the hands of officers demonstrated the exact problem of the country who was willing to take the life of their children to attain power and regulate their ruthless regime. It was significant for Egypt because his death also proved to the country and protestors that the state was unwilling to comply with their demands and ultimately was another strategy to reinforce fear and order back into the people, particularly the youth. This then added on to the list of problems the country was dealing with, police brutality, and a grave violation of human rights. The revolution was essentially a human rights revolution and the youth were seeking an opportunity to attain something with their lives as the societies do in the West.

However, I believe it instead spread another revolution globally on social media that not only changed the way social media was used but it spread the horrors and realities of Egypt’s crises. As described in the article, “Social Media Revolutions” Wolfgang Danspeckgruber states “Social Media Networks operate via social networks, which means that we generally trust the information we see from friends and acquaintances online.” This is essential because the fact that people were trusting the social media reports more than the journalists and news coverage caused the social media campaign to be successful. Therefore, the Khaled Said campaign changed Egypt internally and even though many of the country’s traditions and conservative principles look down upon Said’s personality and life before he was killed, he impacted the majority group of Egypt’s young demographic.

What’s interests me about the Khaled Said campaign was the way it took off online. And I now I’m curious if something similar were to happen today for instance, another massive protest or revolution scenario, would social media provide an even bigger outlet or similar wave globally? Now that there are more popular forms of social media like Instagram would the response be bigger. I ask this because the response for the recent Paris attacks occurred very quickly and the hashtag #prayforparis took off among the youth and celebrities from all over the world. Not only am I astounded from the response from Khaled Said and the recent Paris attacks I’m interested to see if the world will respond the same for the Middle East as they did in Paris.

 

Social Media in the Middle East

Egyptian Youth meets Social Media

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Ali and Eli-Sharnouby express that the youth of Egypt (the age of 29 and under) grew up in such dictatorial-like government that it led such individuals to grow up in desperation of not having the ability to find a job, marriage, or any sense of freedom to voice their opinions. Social Media Networks became a platform for the youth and gave them the opportunity to become the voice of change in the authoritarian regime as well as the opportunity to rebuild Egypt. However, not necessarily did Social Networks cause the desired outcome.

Ali and Eli-Sharnouby express that the youth of Egypt (the age of 29 and under) grew up in such dictatorial-like government that it led such individuals to grow up in desperation of not having the ability to find a job, marriage, or any sense of freedom to voice their opinions. Social Media Networks became a platform for the youth and gave them the opportunity to become the voice of change in the authoritarian regime as well as the opportunity to rebuild Egypt. However, not necessarily did Social Networks cause the desired outcome. 

In Egypt, Social Media Networks became a platform to easily spread information and make publicly visible on sites such as Facebook and Twitter. It has a network to reach a numerous amount of people, helping one spread information faster and accurately as it can be mobile and easy to update. “Furthermore, the applications of Social Networks are extremely low costs…”( Faris, p.5)  and easy to use. All these factors were used in the social movement Facebook page ” We are Khaled Said”, named after a 28 year-old who was brutally murdered.

The actual Facebook page shows photos of Khaled Said and his case and other types of violence that goes on on “a daily basis” in Egypt (Facebook,2016). The page raised the attention of many activists to arouse the issues of torture and human rights making other Egyptian issues such as socio-economic problems obscured. What does this mean? In my theory, to all the people ( majority of youth) that have access to Social Networks have the opportunity to engage on those platforms and gives them the chance to decide whether or not they want to be part of it. However, once already exposed to the issue, such as the one brought up by the Khaled Said page, it sort of lessens those other issues that also should be talked about. The Khaled Said page already provided a movement for others to engage it as it already has a numerous amount of “friends” and is an active page in comparison to other issues brought upon the youth. In no means am I saying the Khaled Said tragedy to be less than any other issue,but rather, with now the power of Social Media which is gives the ability to easily publish information, an array of important issues should be brought into light.

Both Social Media Networks and the Egyptian youth have the ability to make a change, however, whether or not it will make a positive influence is based on the strategic and well thought out measures the youth is willing to make and the current of their society.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Egyptian Youth meets Social Media