In Chapter four of Wael Ghonim’s Revolution 2.0, Ghonim lists the results of the opinion poll he took after the first Silent Stand, which he believes were a way to “invigorate the spirit of participatory democracy on the page” (83). He notes that the highest percentage of young Egyptians who did not come to the Stand were prohibited by their parents. Despite this, Ghonim claims that the new generation of Egyptians is learning not to live under such fear and are using the internet to connect to one another. The people on Ghonim’s anonymous Facebook page rose in huge amounts, which allowed him to get more traction as he planned the next Silent Stand. Ghonim wrote a Facebook status encouraging people to use their artistic, written, and filmmaking gifts to spread news of the Stand against the brutal torture of young Egyptians. Ghonim describes his correspondence with Mohamed Ibrahim, an Egyptian in the UK who helped launch an English version of Ghonim’s website to spread the campaign worldwide.

Khaled used a website to start a dialogue with police officers about Said’s death which was very successful in humanizing both sides to each other. After the third Silent Stand in which screaming and altercations between officers and protesters took place, Ghonim wrote on the facebook page about the importance of peaceful protest.

Although Ghonim was clearly able to use the internet effectively to start an ongoing dialogue and mobilize people, he also faced some challenges in his revolution while he was online. Ghonim accidentally revealed his name at one point, and in September 2010, Facebook blocked the administrators of the Khaled Said page from making any more posts. Ghonim’s efforts to keep the Facebook page active and useful in the revolution were combatted by the suspension of the group from Facebook.

What do you think are some of the limitations of Ghonim’s approach in running a revolution online? 


4 responses »

  1. ssingh6069 says:

    I think the limitations of running a campaign from Facebook are numerous. The number one limitation, which Ghonim faced was anonymity. I think that his ability to keep it secret for so much time is commendable, however obviously when he was discovered it was problematic. However one of the largest problems is removing the revolution from online to the streets, because in the case of the “Arab Spring” the internet was a tool that made it successful not the reason. The major struggle for him would be ensuring that people stayed safe, but protested, because even though he didn’t lead the revolution his page possessed a lot of influence and sway.

    • cvurlumi3815 says:

      Another big risk of running a revolution online is exposure. As mentioned above, anonymity became an issue later on but most importantly the ease of the information getting into the wrong hands is problematic. A facebook campaign can be accessed by anyone and even if there are certain barriers to unwanted eyes they can easily be overcome.

  2. akelly1994 says:

    Ghonim’s campaign through Facebook with not performed without risks. Facebook is a very public arena and people may be hesitant to become involved because their anonymity would be threatened. Ghomin himself was exposed on Facebook and his own safety could be at risk. Anyone can see Ghonmin’s campaign because it is so public, and secretive information would difficult to maintain.
    Also, as mentioned in my previous blog post Ghomin did not have complete authority over his campaign when using Facebook. His Facebook page was still moderated by Facebook, so he had to operate under their terms.

  3. hking21 says:

    As Ghonim stated, “breaking through the barrier of fear”, I feel, was definitely a huge challenge for this approach in particular. Social media networks are great for creating awareness about an issue, educating people, and having important dialogue and discussions. However, when it comes to attempting to facilitate actual ACTION, it can be quite difficult to get people to translate their feelings and thoughts that they have expressed on social media networks into real world action. This can be related to the issue of “Slacktivism” that many online social movement campaigns struggle with.

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