Members’ Articles Section:The role of Social Networks in the revolutionary and post-revolutionary processess in Egypt
May 30, 2012
Writer Karolina Mazetyte
Karolina is a member Of International Politics WG
The protests in Egypt, which started on 25th of January, 2011, toppled down the regime of Hosni Mubarak in 18 days. During the days of revolution it was noticed the high usage of Facebook, Twitter, Youtube and other social networks. State-owned media and television in Egypt were controled by the authoritarian regime, the information given to the public was bogus and favorable for the regime. Public confidence in social networks was rapidly growing, as these networks were the only source of real news and information in Egypt. The regime constricted the freedom of speech and word. People in public were not allowed to discuss about topics opposing the regime. Yet, citizens could express their opinion about regime in the social network sites. These networks were significant for the revolution.
Social networks are decentralizing the flow of information and communication, the ties of the authority power are moving from the vertical perspective where the decisions come from top to bottom, to the horizontal vector, – authority and citizens exist in the same space of information; the territorial factor of the modern state lost its meaning, because the space and time are no more important for the communication.
Facebook, Twitter and Youtube were used the most during the revolution and played different roles: they were the platform of the flow of information and communication for both the Egyptian society and international community; the center of the organization, coordination and mobilization for the protests. The usage of the social networks in the post-revolutionary processes increased, but the role decreased, – the flow of information and communication remained as the main functions of the social networks. Although it took just 18 days of protests to force the resignation of President Mubarak, constructing a new political culture will be a slower and more challenging process.
Egypt is still governed by army, which promised to give back the authority to civilian government after the new Constitution will be created and the new President will be elected. The processes of Constitution implementation is still ongoing and caused a lot of disagreements and arguments between political parties and army. The first fair President elections after more than 60 years authoritarian rule in Egypt are supposed to start on 23-24th May, 2012. New Constitution is still not implemented, which means that the newly elected President will have the same power in creating the Government and ruling the country, as Hosni Mubarak had. The main problem this temporary Constitution Declaration is that 28 article of the Constitution states: <…the decision of electoral commission for President elections will be final and indisputable by any political power, as well as the decisions of the commission can not be prohibited or suspended…>. This article means that if an electoral observer or any citizen would notice or even recorded the fact of election fraud or other irregularities in electoral process, they wouldnt be entitled to contest the results of the President elections. Egyptian people, political scientists and all the international community are seriously worried about this situation. Also, failure to write a new Constitution means, that the legitimacy of political transition processes, balance of power and responsibilities of the political parties in Egypt are not clear.
Social Networks in these processes do not take such a strong and important position as they had in the revolutionary processes. Though some research showed, that the number of people using social networks as their main source of information and communication after the revolution increased, however, 5 million users on social networks, in comparison with Egyptian population is a small percentage.
The role of social networks in transformation and democratization processes in Egypt can be perceived differently. On one hand, there are more freedon on social networks sites, so they can become a communication place for citizens, on the other hand, the that freedom is almost out of control and the social networks are unpredictable. The question remains, whether social networks can bring more benefit or harm for the state. In Egypt, it is likely, that the new elected government will be more careful, knowing the fact that social networks can mobilize the society, as it did before. Yet, it is clear that the following weeks in Egypt will be unpredictable, full of disputes and uncertainty.
- IPWG Board would like to thank Karolina for her inspirational and premium article. We hope more members will follow her motivational example and will use IPWG as step of expressing their ideas and believes.
Author : ipwg