Mubarak shut down the internet, and the internet paid him in kind

by Alexia Tsotsis

Yesterday, after 17 days of protests, former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak gave a speech to the Egyptian government that made it seem like he would not be stepping down. This led to many people on the ground in Egypt and elsewhere feeling depressed, a series of humorous jokes being bandied back and forth on Facebook and Twitter and one Twitter employee commenting to me,“Well, we can only do so much.”

It has become fashionable amongst Western media and armchair foreign policy experts (hi Malcolm) to dismiss the idea that what happened in Egypt was a digital revolution mainly because most people associate Facebook and Twitter with the mundane over-sharing of what you ate for breakfast. That and the fact that its been pretty damn hard to pin down what exactly causes revolutions. This belief  isn’t helped by the truth that a ton of social media noise did not actually lead to a regime change in Iran during #IranElection.

But the many who said that social media was no match for Mubarak’s stubbornness and the fact that his dictatorship had been there for thirty years overlooked one key thing. #Egypt wasn’t just about Facebook and Twitter, it was about the Internet as a whole.

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