2009-08-19

Egypt: the Influence of Facebook Events and Groups

Within the dynamic and expansive electronic media landscape in Egypt, Facebook became widely used by Egyptian citizens for different reasons and in several occasions, especially when it comes to shape the public opinion in opposition to the Egyptian government.
 
For example, the Egyptian government recently announced, through the ministry of communication, a “Fair Usage Policy (FUB)” to be implemented in Egypt, aiming to limit the bandwidth consumed by internet users and determine specific downloadable amount. This policy sparked a heated protest from internet users and bloggers in Egypt causing several reactions, which were captured earlier at Global Voices Online by Tarek Amr and Marwa Rakha
This protest was reflected in the amount of initiatives launched on the social networking website Facebook asking to stop the policy, raise court cases against ISPs, stop paying for internet fees and to protest in front of ISP offices in Egypt. 

All these initiatives where launched through Facebook Events and Groups, as well as on the Egyptian blogosphere.
Following the protest of Egyptian Internet users and bloggers, the minister of communication was “forced” to reverse its plan. As a result, the Fair Usage Policy (FUB) will only be applied to new internet users and for only two months. Which is considered as a positive step for the netizens in general.
It should also be mentioned that one of the most successful story of the Egyptian online activism was achieved during the case of Emad Al Kabir, a microbus driver, who was tortured and sodomised by police - who videotaped the scene on tape. After the release of the video of torture on blogs and video sharing websites and due to public opinion and press media pressure, the officer responsible for torturing Emad Al Kabir was sentenced to three years in prison.
Although the Egyptian government is striving to control online media and arrest internet users based on their web activism, the Egyptian netizens, however, are able to achieve their demands and shape the public opinion.
* Published on Global Voices Online

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