24 Harv. Hum. Rts. J. 185 (2011)
The Power of Social Media in Developing Nations: New Tools for Closing the Global Digital Divide and Beyond

handle is hein.journals/hhrj24 and id is 187 raw text is: The Power of Social Media in Developing
Nations: New Tools for Closing the
Global Digital Divide and Beyond
Amir Hatem Ali'
On January 28, 2011, Egypt's President, Hosni Mubarak, took the dras-
tic and unprecedented step of shutting off the Internet for five days across
an entire nation. His reason for doing so was simple: to halt the flow of
communication and coordinated assembly taking place over social media
platforms, like Facebook a       Tw     er. That Mubarak took this desperate
step -   which cost Egypt an estimated $90 million2 and outraged the inter-
national community3 - demonstrates the incredible power of social media.
Mubarak's decision to shut off the Internet took place after three days of
demonstrations by tens of thousands of Egyptians. Although the demon-
strations were centered in Cairo's Tahrir Square (or Liberation Square),
there were also substantial demonstrations in Alexandria, Mansoura, and
Suez.4 The protesters expressed outrage over several issues, including state
corruption, police brutality, and economic oppression.5 Their demand was
clear: President Hosni Mubarak must leave the country.6
Various groups, including April 6 Youth Movement, We Are All Khaled
Said, National Association for Change, and Kefaya led a coordinated effort7
using social media platforms, including Facebook and Twitter, to spread a
revolutionary message. Prior to the first day of protest, 85,000 Egyptians
1. Harvard Law School, J.D. 2011. I would like to thank Yochai Benkler, Kathryn Marshall,
Michelle Katz, Hrishi Hari, and Sara Zampierin for their thoughtful comments throughout the process
of writing and editing this piece.
2. Christopher Noble, Communications Block Cost Egypt $90 Million - OECD, WAu. Sr.J., Feb. 3,
2011, http://online.wsj.com/arricle/BT-CO-20110203-718927.html.
3. See infra notes 14-17 and accompanying text.
4. Egypt protests escalate in Cairo, Suez and other cities, BBC NEWS (Jan. 28, 2011), http://www.
5. Ben Wedeman & Amir Ahmed, 3 dead after thousands protest in rare Egypt outpouring, CNN.com
(Jan. 26, 2011), http://edition.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/africa/01/25/egypt.protests/index.html.
6. Id.
7. Who is behind the Egyptian protests?, GUARDIAN, Feb. 2, 2011, http://www.guardian.co.uk/com-
8. See Scott Shane, Spotlight Again Falls on Web Tools and Change, N.Y. TIMEs, Jan. 29, 2011, http://

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