Online Activism in Egypt

Online activism multiplied the impact of social protest in Egypt: it made political action easier, faster and more universal. In the tightly controlled Egyptian political space, social media enabled activists to circumnavigate the regime’s repressive structures to convince Egyptians in the online world into taking action in the offline one. This was its main success, for a revolution will always be won and lost on the streets. The political uses of online platforms and technologies are extremely transferrable, and are just as clearly seen in the London riots as they were in Tahrir. The first use is as a tool for mobilising citizens by producing material designed to inspire them into action, and to organise their action once recruited. The second is to use online platforms as a medium for citizen journalism to report on the situation.
It was not Facebook, Twitter or YouTube that brought down Hosni Mubarak. The Egyptian people did that. But this does not mean that social media and internet-based technologies played no role, or that their role was insignificant, as some have alleged. Rather, events in Egypt and countries across the Middle East and North Africa have shown in the ‘Arab Spring’ that internet platforms and technologies should be seen for what they are: effective tools for the conduct of political campaigns in authoritarian contexts.