Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Availability and Freedom of Information

Starting at midnight on January 27, 2011 in Cairo and Alexandria, political protests against the Egyptian government led to the government enforcing Internet censorship, followed by a blockage of international Internet access between Egypt and the rest of the online world. Since then, we watched the unrest in Egypt unfold through online news, blogs, tweets and emails – while the entire country of Egypt was without access to the Internet.

Before the Egyptian government “turned off” the Internet, Facebook saw six times more traffic than Google inside the country, according to the MSNBC Technolog. Then the outages came, followed by the protests. Two weeks later, the 30-year ruling of Hosni Mubarak ended. As of February 2, normal connectivity and freedom to information was restored. Did the Internet bring down a dictator?

We couldn’t help but think back over the last five years and consider how much the Internet, specifically social media, has globally changed how we live, work and most recently, how it empowers the masses to shape the government.  As PR folks, freedom of information, connectivity and the ability to interact with others through the Internet is crucial. What do you think? Check out Public Relations Society of America’s “Considerations for global PR professionals.” How has the Egypt unrest, fueled by social media and information restriction, impacted the way we view the power of the Internet? 

This post was contributed by Lauren Venegas