Thursday, January 27, 2011

How powerful is social media? Ask the Egyptian government

The unrest in Egypt right now is being fueled by instant messaging, social media postings and heavy use of mobile communication. The results are quite harrowing as hundreds are being brutally put down by Hosni Mubarak's 30 year old government.

Here are the facts from Britains Guardian newspaper

Egypt blocks social media websites in attempted clampdown on unrest

Facebook, Google, Hotmail and Twitter among services blocked by government, report users

  • Article history
  • Riot police blocking press photographers during attempts to stage a second day of protests in Cairo
    Mobile phone users film riot police blocking press photographers during a second day of protests in Cairo. Photograph: Ben Curtis/AP

    Internet sites such as Twitter and Facebook were cut off within Egypt today as the government of President Hosni Mubarak tried to prevent social media from being used to foment unrest.

    Many sites registered in Egypt could not be reached from outside, according to, a website where users report access problems.

    Twitter, YouTube, Hotmail, Google, Chinese search engine Baidu and a "proxy service" – which would allow users to evade obvious restrictions – appeared to be blocked from inside the country, according to reports on the site.

    Twitter said blocking was intermittent and some users were able to tweet while Bambuser, a Swedish site for streaming video from mobile phones, said it had been blocked after being used by some protesters this week.

    About 24%, or 19.2 million, of Egypt's 80 million population have internet access, usually through internet cafes, mobile internet or "public information technology clubs". About 1m have home access via computer.

    Far more people – about 26 million – have mobile phones, so protests could be organised via text message. Vodafone, one of the two largest mobile phone operators there, said it was not responsible for blocking Twitter. "It's a problem all over Egypt and we are waiting for a solution."

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