Access to the Internet and specifically social networking site Facebook made a huge difference to Egyptians who succeeded on Friday in forcing former President Hosni Mubarak out of power. But how important was it?
“First Tunisia, now Egypt,” began CNN host Wolf Blitzer. “What’s next?”
“Ask Facebook,” answered Wael Ghonim, an Egyptian activist and the head of marketing in the Middle East and North Africa for search giant Google. “I want to meet [Facebook founder] Mark Zuckerberg and thank him personally.”
“I’m talking on behalf of Egypt,” he continued. “This revolution started online. This revolution started on Facebook. This revolution started in June 2010 when hundreds of thousands of Egyptians started collaborating content.
“We would post a video on Facebook that would be shared by 60,000 people on their walls within a few hours. I always said that if you want to liberate a society just give them the Internet.
“The reason why is the Internet will help you fight a media war, which is something the Egyptian government regime played very well in 1970, 1980, 1990, and when the Internet came along they couldn’t play it. I’m gonna talk a lot about this. I plan to write a book called ‘Revolution 2.0’ that will say everything from the start, when there was nothing, until the end, and highlight the role of social media.”
Ghoneim was arrested by Egyptian security forces during protests last week and his whereabouts was for a time unknown. While he was missing, Amnesty International said he was “facing a serious risk of torture and other ill-treatment by security forces.”
He traveled to Egypt on January 23, two days before massive nationwide rallies erupted demanding the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak. Ghoneim was freed on Monday.
“I like to call it the Facebook Revolution but after seeing the people right now, I would say this is the Egyptian people’s revolution. It’s amazing,” he said during a speech to Egyptians in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.
“I’m not a hero, you are the heroes, you’re the ones who stayed on this square,” Ghonim told the crowd as they surged around him.
This video is from CNN, broadcast Friday, Feb. 11, 2011.