Egypt's ministry of telecommunications and information technology has issued a clarification of statements made by communications minister Yasser El-Kady on Monday regarding the establishment of an "Egyptian Facebook" platform.
At a counter-extremism workshop organized by the Egyptian Justice Ministry on Monday, the minister said that Egypt had taken steps toward facilitating the creation of a home-grown version of the social-media platform.
El-Kady's apparent announcement of a state-backed social-media project was instantly hailed by some Egyptian members of parliament as an "excellent step to protect Egypt".
However, the ministry's public relations head Mohamed Hanafy Khedr Mostafa said on Monday evening that the minister's statement had been misinterpreted, and that he was referring simply to the potential for young Egyptians to develop social-media platforms in cooperation with international partners within the private sector.
Mostafa said the ministry has no plans to simulate international applications such as Facebook, although it is willing to support young Egyptian entrepreneurs in their efforts.
"We have Egyptian youths who have been able to execute applications with global reach, with international corperations contacting them to buy such applications," Mostafa said in his press statement.
Many of the young tech-savvy Egyptians behind such applications were graduates of the ministry's Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship Centre and were able to work on applications of the same quality as Facebook and other commerical applications.
El-Kady's comments on Monday were widely reported in Egyptian media, where he was quoted as saying that the "Egyptian Facebook" initiative was part of a wider plan to involve the country as a significant player in the global social-media field.
El-Kady also said that Egypt should be an active player in social-media, rather than being the subject of other people's actions, as was usually the case.
During the same workshop on Monday, the minister announced that a new cybercrime bill had been submitted to parliament, stirring debate among parliamentarians.
Egypt leads the number of Arab Facebook users, according to statistics from 2017, with approximately 34.5 million active accounts, representing 23 percent of all Arab Facebook users.