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Questioning The Role Of Social Media In Egypt

Blogger Hossam el-Hamalawy says this graffiti on a building near Tharir Square shows how the revolution has been reported: Twitter, Al-Jazeera, Facebook. Hossam el-Hamalawy/via Flickr hide caption

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Hossam el-Hamalawy/via Flickr

Blogger Hossam el-Hamalawy says this graffiti on a building near Tharir Square shows how the revolution has been reported: Twitter, Al-Jazeera, Facebook.

Hossam el-Hamalawy/via Flickr

We've heard it asked over and over as the protests rage in Egypt: Could this revolt have happened without social networking tools like Twitter and Facebook?

Malcolm Gladwell, who in the past has argued that not only does it not help but it hurts revolutions, weighed in at the New Yorker:

Please. People protested and brought down governments before Facebook was invented. They did it before the Internet came along. Barely anyone in East Germany in the nineteen-eighties had a phone—and they ended up with hundreds of thousands of people in central Leipzig and brought down a regime that we all thought would last another hundred years—and in the French Revolution the crowd in the streets spoke to one another with that strange, today largely unknown instrument known as the human voice.

The PBS News Hour aired a more nuanced discussion of what role these tools are playing, including how the the government's Internet shutoff could have backfired:

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