The Social Media Organization, by Mustafa El-Azzi
If I were asked to present a ‘Leader of the Egyptian Revolution’ award to an individual/organization, I would present it to the “Social Media Organization.” (SMO) I have created this imaginary organization because I think there have been three key social media players in the Egyptian revolution: Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. According to the International Committee for journalists, “Twitter and Facebook were key tools in bringing down two dictators – and they helped change how the world now perceives the Middle East…” (ICFJ.org). These organizations have helped Egyptians get closer towards a democratic change in their country even though Egypt country has been suppressed politically, economically and socially for many years.
The former government regime tried to suppress the Egyptian protesters during the revolution by any means necessary. However, the Social Media Organization created a platform where the Egyptian people could exchange and express their opinions and raise their voices to be heard so action takes place. The protesters played an effective role conveying what was happening on the field where no news reporters were able to go. Official media tried to hide some facts due to political reasons but social networks revealed this trickery. Demonstrators used to send videos and photos to be broadcasted through prominent Arab channels such as Al Arabiya. Social networks empowered the Egyptian people and supported their voice. In a way, we can say that the Social Media Organization did connect with the Egyptian people effectively and helped them overcome difficulties that their government tried to throw on them.
The players of SMO played the Egyptian revolution game well. They helped Egyptian protesters to have their calls answered for major demonstrations. One adaptive challenge that this organization faced during the demonstrations is the time in which no journalists were able to enter Tahrir Square. Journalists were unable to carry out an extensive coverage of what was happening to their news agencies so the world can follow up on what is happening during the Egyptian revolution. So how did SMO react?
The organization did face one of the four faces of danger discussed in H&L book “Leadership on the Line.” It was ‘attacked’ by the Egyptian government through trying to disconnect the internet so its people no longer communicate through Facebook, but that deactivated the role of one player only. We may call this an adaptive challenge which the Social Media Organization resolved quickly and successfully: YouTube swooped in to carry on the role Facebook did. The Egyptian people used their mobile phones to videotape what used to happen then send those videos through their mobiles to prominent Arab news channels such as Al-Arabiya and Al-Jazeera. Those channels then broadcasted as many of these videos as possible. “…the world received a vivid picture [with the help of social media] of what was happening on the ground despite the government attempt to shut down the Internet” (ICFJ.org).
The Social Media Organization has shown us the effective role a leader can play to create a good change in a society. It has empowered people and allowed them to express their opinions and feelings about their land. It has given them the opportunity to knock down a paralyzed government system that has existed for years. Most importantly, it has shown them the power of hope. “The January 25 revolution in Egypt gained a major foothold with the application of social media tools like Facebook and Twitter. Since the existence of media, individuals have used it to demand more governmental transparency and mobilize allies.” (Morrison, 2011).
1.Heifetz, Ron, and Martin Linsky (2002). Leadership on the Line. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business Press.
2.“The “Democratization of the Media” Leads to Greater Democracy in the Middle East.” ICFJ.org. http://storify.com/icfj/the-democratization-of-the-media-leads-to-greater-
3.Seib, Philip (2005). “Reconnecting the World: How New Media Technologies May Help Change Middle East Politics.” Journal of Transnational Broadcasting Studies. The Adham Center for Electronic Journalism, the American University in Cairo. http://www.tbsjournal.com/Archives/Fall05/Seib.html
4.Morrison, Thomas (2011). “Social Media Sparks Egyptian Revolution.” Social Networking News Daily. http://socialnetworkingnewsdaily.com/social-networking/social-media-sparks-egyptian-revolution/
5.Thistlethwaite, Susan (2011). “The Power of Truth: Egypt and the Reaffirmation of Nonviolent Political Change.” http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2011/02/egypt_nonviolence.html