Open Source Revolutions Using Social Media to Shape the Message

Posted: January 31, 2011 in Messaging, Social Media
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Unless you are Katie Couric, you’ve no doubt seen hours and hours of news coverage about the unrest in Egypt.

Interestingly, there seems to be no concensus as to what the reasons are for the uprising of tens of thousands of Egyptians, but there is no doubt that the suddeness and the rapid organization of the protests were unusual in the sense that most outbreaks of civil disobedience are sparked by a specific event, like the arrest of a beloved opposition leader or the death of a martyr at the hands of the oppressive police. It seems as there is no real voice on what the people want, other than they don’t want President Mubarek.

However, there is no doubt that everyone seems to agree that social media, specifically Facebook and Twitter, are the two communications tools that allowed the seemingly instantaneous organization of groups.

And, there is also a compelling story emerging of how social media has been used to shape the messages about what is happening in Egypt in both old media and new media.

Because there is so much information coming out of Cairo through open sources (even though the government has attempted to contain it by shutting down Internet access and mobile access — there are only three cellular providers in Cairo) an expert in open source warfare says some of the government’s tactics are not working.

Granted, this messaging war works both ways.  Now that the Muslim Brotherhood, other proxy groups sponsored by Iran, and groups profiting from a change in government,  have gotten up to speed (there are reports that the spontaneous nature of the protests surprised even the Muslim Brotherhood), you will see continued anti-government propaganda and a honing of the message for the removal of Mubarek.

The interesting aspect of their message is clear — there can be only two choices, either Mubarek goes or protests continue.

The government, however, has a different plan.  Mubarek plays for time and stays.

He stays or he goes.  A simple either or proposition that almost anyone can understand.

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