Some of my colleagues are still skeptical about the importance of social networking websites. Indeed, in the UK there’s an amusing nickname for it “social not-working” and here is an interesting critique of Web 2.0 which brings up some valid points of Keen’s. However, Keen is downplaying the fact that plenty of garbage floated through the gatekeepers in that medium, too and overall comes off as reactionary, like a monastery complaining that the printed press allows anyone to print rather than leaving the creation of books to the monk’s trained hand.
It is beyond foolish to underestimate the fantastic significance of social media as a communication tool. In fact, I would consider Web 2.0 to be the biggest advance in human communication since Gutenberg invented the printed press, and yes, that’s a good thing.
The recent protests to the sham election in Iran were coordinated with Twitter, and Facebook played a major role in the revolution in Egypt. Their countries’ state-controlled print and broadcast media could never have been used for this with the current leaders in place.
“Facebook and Tunisia did this” Egyptian TV personality Moez Masoud, said in a BBC interview when asked what the “secret” of this successful revolution was. The revolt was first organized via this Facebook fan page operated anonymously by Google executive Wael Ghonim. There you go.
Here’s a column on the Huffington Post that goes into this in more detail. Here’s a quote from the article:
“At the critical climax of the Egyptian revolution, one of its sparks, Google’s Wael Ghonim, told his followers on Twitter that he would not speak to them through media but instead through the Facebook page he created, the page he’d used to gather momentum for the protest, the page that had gotten him arrested, the page that was one of the reasons that Hosni Mubarak hit the kill switch on the entire Internet in Egypt (here’s another reason). After Mubarak left, Ghonim said on CNN that he wanted to meet Mark Zuckerberg to thank him for Facebook and the ability to make that page.”
The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page also took note of the importance of social media in the Egyptian uprising.