Sunday, January 25, 2009

Talk Like an Egyptian

"In Revolution, Facebook-Style," the New York Times reports on the lively political debates taking place within Egyptian social network sites. This is often the case because such sites seem to offer less risk of surveillance from authorities than more obviously public places in the blogosphere. However, the structure of the site around networks of online friendship also offers certain possibilities for collective action, particularly as the Israeli occupation of Gaza continues.

In most countries in the Arab world, Facebook is now one of the 10 most-visited Web sites, and in Egypt it ranks third, after Google and Yahoo. About one in nine Egyptians has Internet access, and around 9 percent of that group are on Facebook — a total of almost 800,000 members. This month, hundreds of Egyptian Facebook members, in private homes and at Internet cafes, have set up Gaza-related “groups.” Most expressed hatred for Israel and the United States, but each one had its own focus. Some sought to coordinate humanitarian aid to Gaza, some criticized the Egyptian government, some criticized other Arab countries for blaming Egypt for the conflict and still others railed against Hamas.

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