Together: Social Media

Social media has been a way for people all over the world to connect, and in Egypt’s case for a revolution to be made possible. Throughout the readings, we came across pieces which have helped m
e understand the potential of social media and its social_media_people1outcomes. In “We are all Khaled Said” we see how social media has worked to bring together teens and people of all ages who have been fighting for police brutality to be stopped among the youths.

The second article, “We Are All Revolutionaries Now: Social Media Networks and the Egyptian Revolution” by David Faris, as opposed to giving just one in depth explanation of a certain situation, tells us more about the effects in general about social media websites. I found the piece being very helpful to help me understand how effective social media can really be. As a user of social media for mostly socializing reasons, I never knew what other ways social media can be used, and even though I have came accross pages involving people of similar political interests, I hadn’t known how important and essential this medium is to keep pushing forth and connecting people to work together to keep striving for social movements.

This article breaks down how Facebook and Twitter have played a role in theimages Egyptian revolution, and how it has been able to give the opportunity to novice activists to engage in a change as well. The article says, “Finally, Social Media Networks are fully comprehensible and usable even to novice activists, needing nothing beyond standard computer literacy (and sometimes not even that).” It is essential that Facebook, twitter and social mediums be accessible to people all over the world, so people can express their beliefs, and come together easily. Accessibility plays a big role on how effective a site may be, as it may be reached and followed by many people around the world at any time. For example, for myself, being able to access the WAAKS Facebook page has helped me become more aware of revolutionary happenings around the world and more informed on police and government brutality in Egypt. Had I not been able to publicly access the webpage through a click of a link, I may have never been informed, and thus would have to seek out other places to follow honest news.

The article also makes a point that using social media is also low cost, “Furthemore, the applications of Social Media Networks are extremely low costs, usually carried within the total cost of accessing the Internet and purchasing the necessary equipment (i.e., laptop, iPad, cell phone).” Along with easy access to web pages, low cost is also important if a site wants to be accessible to a great number of people.

In both articles the media is proven to be a source of connectivity and political activism. As long as we have accessible active social voices circulating in the media, people will be able to be more informed and participate or be a contribution to revolutionary change.

Advertisements
Together: Social Media

We are all Khaled Said

03

Throughout the reading I was able to understand what “We are all Khaled Said” meant and what it represented to the people in Egypt. Majority of the youth in Egypt is growing up in a dysfunctional country were there are great scales of unemployment, drug abuse, poor quality education, and a corrupt legal system. As stated in the article Distorting Digital Citizenship, 62% of the population in Egypt is under twenty nine years old.

Many social media outlets have helped enabled uprising in many countries experiencing inhuman behavior towards citizens. One of the important movements in Egypt that spread rapidly would be “We are all Khaled Said” through the social network of Facebook. This movement helped the youth fight back the abuse they were receiving from the police through the incident of Alexandrian Khaled Said whom was beaten to death by police. Khaled Said was an indirect symbol who was able to represent the youth because he was easily relatable and his incident evolved the movement aimed towards the Emergency Law. Through this law, police powers were not limited, there was censorship, and citizens had no rights. The WAAKS allowed the starting of other small social media that address various of other issues Egypt faced such as sexual assault, marriage, drugs, etc. This aided the youth in seeing how important and influential social networks can be and recognizing the power it can have within their youth culture.

Khaled Said had a history of drug abuse and being problematic. He may not have been an ideal heroic symbol but he helped advance a rebellion against Hosni Mubarak former president would was eventually thrown over. Although there are still many remaining problems in Egypt to be faced this has helped spread awareness within the youth. Many are still hopefully that the youth will be more politically inclined and use the readily available and cheap forms such as the media and internet to gather together toward their human rights.

We are all Khaled Said

Digital Activism and Social Movements in Egypt

khaled-said-by-hommad

The advancements of social media technologies has very distinctly impacted and fostered the growth and change of the spread of information accessible to the people of Egypt. Prior to digital activism, social movements in Egypt may have gained merely hundreds of supporters, as opposed to the thousands or more that are able to spread word of various causes through the use of social media like Facebook and Twitter. This newfound use of technology to spread awareness of various issues in Egypt helped directly to lead to the Egyptian revolution, “which would have greatly affected the participatory thresholds of other Egyptians and led to the quashing of the revolt before it could gather the momentum it eventually did,” (Faris- Social Media)

Ahmed Ghanim defines social media as platforms for user-generated ideas, and shared his account of how he experienced it’s contribution to the Egyptian revolution. I found it interesting that he stated that there were only two main forms of media for most of his life, and that they were so drastically different. He explained that the soft-spoken “other” type of media is what has been transformed by technology and social media, and this has helped it to become more mainstream in opposition to the media messages put out by the government. An aspect of this article and of the other that I found very interesting however, is what was stated about who the users are of these social media platforms. The majority of the users are regular people and citizens, but there is a percentage of users who belong to an “elite” group of activists who use the mediums to further a specific agenda, which usually is some form of response to the ruling regimes in Egypt.

Much of the articles were about Khaled Said, and about the contrast between his image as a martyr in the public and on Facebook which started the movements around his death, and about his personal life and the differences between the two images. Although he may have just been a flawed youth and some may argue that he wasn’t deserving of his saint-like status, his death and the movements that came about afterwards was crucial to the spread of information and outcries from other youth and citizens in the country who faced similar undeserving and brutal treatment from authority and police. I couldn’t help but make comparisons between the story of Khaled Said and the We Are Khaled Said movement, and the several movements rallying against the brutal treatment of black youth by police in America. Whether the face of a movement is necessarily an activist or saint themselves doesn’t seem to me to be very important, as long as the message being spread is one of importance and one that can help to benefit people who are being mistreated.

Digital Activism and Social Movements in Egypt

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.

8003191853_9191b9a802_b

 

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

The Power and Problems of WAAKS

While reading about the “We Are All Khaled Said” movement, what struck me most was the ways in which the movement failed. These included narrativizing a “two-dimensional” version of Said by failing to discuss the issues that he faced and that many of Egypt’s youth still face, which included drug abuse, poverty and low-quality education, just to name a few. Instead, Said was made out to be a martyr of police brutality and used to spearhead the movement against the Emergency Act.

“The Khaled Said of WAAKS represents the inclusive youth of the Egyptian revolution, while the other Khaled Said represents the exiled Egyptian,” write Amro Ali and Dina El-Sharnouby in Wired Citizenship.

WAAKS had the opportunity to use Said’s murder to open up a dialogue on multiple social issues that Egypt’s youth faces. WAAKS could have done this by focusing on the social problems that Said struggled with throughout his life. Instead, they polished his story in order to better position him as a martyr of the single issue of police brutality.

Victims like Said should be used to encourage public-thinking about the complex issues that societies face. One of digital activism’s biggest strengths is also one of its largest challenges. Internet-users have grown accustomed to neatly packaged, bite-sized bits of information. Part of the Internet’s power to mobilize individuals comes from users’ ability to instantly share easily-digestible information like tweets and status updates. Although problematic, WAAKS’s simplifying of Said’s story increased the power he granted them by giving the movement a more clear objective.

Would WAAKS have had the same power to mobilize people if it acknowledged the complexity of Said’s social problems instead of simplifying him into a martyr of police brutality?

In a reality that faces highly complex social issues, how can internet campaigns better address such complexities while still influencing people on large scale?

— Johnny Rafter

The Power and Problems of WAAKS

Youth and Digital Technology in Egypt

According to Ali and El-Sharnouby, Youth in Egypt has increased in population but during the era of Hosni Mubarak, this majority populous was marginalized. At first, in 1981, the youth were seen as productive forces but due to the NDP’s failure to implement any policies, significant amounts of this youth group could not get steady employment causing them to continue living dependent upon their parents. With this frustration and other factors, Egyptian youth were the catalyst and heart behind the fall of Mubarak, mobilizing the populous. Post revolution, these young people failed to recognize that they had to focus on the realism of their situation, “realities of drug abuse, religious extremism, poor-quality education, unemployment, sexual frustration…”(Ali and El-Sharnouby, 90). Ali and El-Sharnouby argue that the “We are all Khaled Said” movement is responsible for driving the Revolution in on the 25th of January. But the movement failed to identify and even discuss other socio-economic youth issues prevalent during the context of that period.

Not only did these youth’s serve as a tool for these revolutions and social movements, but so did the emergence and continued development of digital technology, specifically social media. This can cause digital co-option which is getting followers to gravitate towards one particular argument, discussion, discourse, aim, etc, while alienating others in the community by using “slogans, incidents, and cultural symbolism in their mobilization strategies”(Ali and El-Sharnouby, 92).

The Facebook page for WAAKS is a good example of this digital co-option, using Khaled Said is a martyr and unifying figure, to shift awareness towards other victims of Emergency Law. Khaled Said was not only part of the youth but a man of middle-class background whose death transformed him into the ultimate saint.

What I find immensely intriguing was Khaled Said’s influence by black American subculture including language, clothing and anti-police views. While this didn’t affect his activism its important to recognize these marginalized groups and how culture can thread them together.

Black American subculture and Egypt’s youth have perceptions painted onto them with judgement and disdain and yet they can help to empower one another through culture, language and style. I recognize, in the implications of this movement, various aspects that connect back to the United States and our social movements.

Ali and El-Sharnouby state on page 98 “This form of denial about ‘ourselves; as a society reinforces the syndrome of victim blaming. A woman is blamed if she is harassed; she is accused of wearing ‘unsuitable clothing’…just as a youth who takes drugs is perceived to deserve what he gets from the police.”

I can’t help but thing of Black Lives Matter and the perpetual, systemic and undeserved violence against Blacks in America. Police brutality over no crime or perceived petty-theft crime has become extremely common and life-threatening.

In conclusion, digital activism by specifically the  youth, assisted by the saint-figure of Khaled Said on Facebook, helped to mobilize efforts on January 25. The construction of Facebook pages, digital technology in general, and its connection to activism and ability to mobilize efforts is not only outstanding but proven to be successful, as studied in the WAAKS movement.

 

KhaledSaidcartoon

Youth and Digital Technology in Egypt