Wael Ghonim, a Google executive, used Facebook and Twitter to help lead a revolution in Egypt that led to the resignation of Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak. In an interview on NPR's Fresh Air, Ghonim said he was inspired by the uprising in Tunisia. He was further enraged by police forces' treatment of Khaled Said, a man beaten to death (WARNING: GRAPHIC FOOTAGE) for criticism of government corruption, his family and friends said.
Ghonim started a Facebook page in response titled "We Are All Khaled Said." He encouraged followers to make signs with the slogan as a way of getting people engaged in the movement.
Ghonim was eventually kidnapped and detained by Egyptian authorities for 11 days, but thanks to activism on Facebook and Twitter the movement was able to continue in his absence.
He resists taking too much credit for the campaign because in his eyes all he did was open lines of communication. In an interview with Harry Smith of "60 Minutes," Ghonim said:
Our revolution is like Wikipedia, okay? Everyone is contributing content, [but] you don't know the names of the people contributing the content. This is exactly what happened. Revolution 2.0 in Egypt was exactly the same. Everyone contributing small pieces, bits and pieces. We drew this whole picture of a revolution. And no one is the hero in that picture.
While certainly not on the scale of the Arab spring, I can personally attest to the communicative power of social media, particularly Twitter.
One seemingly innocuous tweet turned into a pretty big scoop for then Oakland Post Managing Content Editor Nichole Seguin and I.
@oaklandu residence hall showrooms have been converted into actual rooms. Clearly, this is a sign that we need more residence halls.
This person requested that they be left out of any eventual story because of their position as an RA in the housing department. I've chosen to leave the name undisclosed here as well.
After following up, that tweet eventually became this Oakland Post cover story.
It wasn't the Egyptian revolution, but it did prove the power of social media as an important communication platform.