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Social media blockage during Egypt protests

Egypt's second 'day of anger' sees a large scale internet clamp-down, as Facebook, like Twitter on Tuesday, falls prey to government attempts to stifle nationwide communication and protest

Ekram Ibrahim , Thursday 27 Jan 2011
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Egypt has witnessed several networking problems, as several social media sites have been shut down during the first and second days of nationwide protests. Some website have been confirmed as blocked by the government while others are left – culprits unknown.

Twitter was first to be shut down on Tuesday after all of Egypt's internet service providers prohibited user accessibility. Nevertheless, some techno-savy Egyptians were able to access Twitter through various proxies.

“Twitter was used by people on the ground to relay what was happening,” said Rasha Abdulla, head of the Mass Communication department at the American University in Cairo (AUC), to Ahram Online.

On Wednesday, Facebook users reported difficulty accessing their accounts for at least 30 minutes at around 3:00pm:shortly after which Facebook began working again, albeit at a low speed.

Commentators have concluded that social media was the key mobilising factor in Tuesday's mass protests.

“The whole process of mobility was virtual, internet is what has brought people together in this protest” said Amr Hamzawy, a political writer, research director and senior associate at the Carnegie Middle East Centre in Beirut, speaking to Ahram Online.

Social media wasn't the only target though as some online newspapers were not accessible as well.

The Dostor 's opposition newspaper’s website was blocked yesterday and has not resurfaced since then.

The El-Badil and Youm7.com online newspapers were not accessed for a couple of ours on the first elections’ day.

“Many newspaper's websites are not functioning; the security apparatus is hitting back,” Hamzawy told Ahram Online. “This security apparatus is going to escalate the situation.”

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