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?