Tweeting Egypt

The Social Media of the Egyptian Uprising


YouTube is a video-hosting site that allows users with email accounts through Google to post footage of virtually anything. There are some controls for graphic or inappropriate content, but most scenes can still be posted, as long as it comes with a warning for viewers. For example, protesters uploaded samples of the police brutality they endured. This has become a more popular practice in other Arab nations and now with the Occupy movement in the United States, but it characterized the Egyptian uprising as well. Once a video is on YouTube, it can be easily shared through other platforms (blogs, Facebook, etc.) thanks to the tools the site provides.

YouTube stands apart from the other forms of social media discussed on this site for two reasons. First, its data is multifaceted, focusing on audio and visuals as opposed to text. While Egyptian tweeters and Facebook users shared videos on those respective media, they were generally uploaded to YouTube first. The primary purposes of the sites are not the same. On YouTube, the content itself – as opposed to the user or interactions – takes center stage. Commenting is possible on YouTube, but it is only a secondary draw. Users come to YouTube to watch videos, not to read comments.

YouTube is also different because it is more searchable than social media sites that focus on capturing a peak sentiment. Users posted content less frequently on YouTube than Twitter or Facebook during the uprising, so it is easier to weed through. For that reason, I was able to find some examples of YouTube videos from the appropriate time period and post them here. The ones displayed on this page highlight common questions that arose over a larger sample: reliability, language choice, use in Western media, protest songs, motive and the power of visual media.


Posted January 26, dated January 26 by YassaKarim.
This video was picked up by the New York Times in their blog about the Egyptian bloggers. One of the questions that this raises is why the American media picked up on this specific YouTube user? Is it because he uses Roman characters to name the place where the protest occurred in the title? If so, might that have had any bearing on how Egyptian social media users talked about the movement online and subsequently on the movement itself?
Posted January 27, dated January 25 by lamsh.
Posted February 3, 2011 by letoutou99.
It’s unclear if the footage in this music video comes from the uprising or from other protests. More than the other videos, the footage itself should be used as an example of what went on during that time. Regardless, it was posted during the uprising and thus contributed to the motivation and identity of the protesters.
Posted February 11 by lamsh.
The description of this video says it was taken outside Mubarak’s presidential palace at Heliopolis. Though we cannot take that as fact without doing further research to confirm it, we can assume that it is a good representation of the stark images facing protesters that February: tanks, wire fence and armed guards.
Posted February 11 by lamsh.
This video has great audio in which you can hear the chanting. It could be used for further study of the music and sounds of the uprising – many of which were shared among other movements throughout the Arab world this spring.
Posted February 11 by Egyptocracy.
Posted February 11 by Egyptocracy.
Posted February 11 by Egyptocracy.
Posted February 12, dated February 11 by lamsh.
Posted February 12 by Egyptocracy.
As you can see, all of the videos from Egyptocracy were posted in the days surrounding Mubarak’s departure. This is indicative of a larger problem: people who documented the uprising but did not get involved until later on. That raises questions: why did they wait so long to get involved? Are they an organic part of the movement, or were there ulterior motives present? These questions play into the question of citizen journalists vs. professional journalists.
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