This is worth reading. I've chosen an excerpt from the second half of the article. Please read on here.
World Policy Institute, by Mahmoud Salen
When the Mubarak regime shut down the Internet and all forms of communication on January 28, 2011, it did not silence the revolution. Instead, it inspired thousands of supporters to take to the streets. That day soon became known as the "Day of Rage," when overwhelming numbers of protestors poured into Tahrir Square to demand a different—if not better—tomorrow.
Despite the government’s attempts to silence the Internet, Twitter and Facebook remained the main conduit of information effectively combatting state propaganda. When Internet was restored, Twitter became an even more critical tool for mobilization. Whatever needs the protestors had—food, supplies, or otherwise—we would Tweet out to the myriad of followers tracking our every move. After 18 days of somewhat violent protest, Egyptian techno-activists, such as myself, had become the symbols of a revolution we did not lead or control. We were, quite simply, its switchboard.
GOOD, BAD, AND VERY UGLY
In the days that followed, we further explored the limits of social media. Post-Mubarak, safety became a major issue, as rumors of crime spread fast and furiously. In order to verify crime stories, we asked residents to tweet photo confirmations. Meanwhile, Bey2ollak, a Twitter-based app that crowd-sources information on the state of Cairo’s traffic, became a tool to check for the safest route home.
Twitter also helped with logistics and supplies for our activities. When we had clashes or sit-ins, a Twitter account called Tahrir Supplies—created by two girls forbidden by their parents from attending the protests—would tweet lists of medical and food supplies that protesters and field hospitals need ed. During the clashes that followed the sniper killing of Al- Taawun reporter Mo hamed Mahmoud in February 2011, it is estimated that Tahrir Supplies moved some $700,000 worth of medical supplies in one day. The possibilities of a connectivity tool combined with a passionate following seemed limitless.
Still, while it had its benefits, social media began to exhibit its shortcomings quite early. Its overwhelming flaw was that it was powered by people. While an excellent medium for crowd-sourcing information and urging followers into collective action, it’s not a broadcasting network. Rather, it’s a two-way conversation between a single person on one side, and thousands on the other. That itself has proved most challenging—especially when only a few of us were on the receiving end.
At any given point I could have anywhere from 300 to 600 contacts in an hour, each seeking a response or wanting to embark on a conversation. Each felt slighted if I failed to answer promptly or missed a single mention. Those we couldn’t answer took it personally and began railing against "those egotistical twiteratti" who didn’t have time to answer the common people anymore. Resentment slowly bred contempt, which eventually turned into antagonism. Our private timeline took on the outlines of an ominous landscape where hundreds, if not thousands, silently waited for a mistake to burn those they once idolized. And then it got worse.
REVOLUTION OF INDIVIDUALS
A revolution organized by social media is by definition a revolution made up of disparate individuals who share similar but general goals. When it came to details, however, the devil lay there smiling. Ideological disagreements reared their ugly heads. Political divisions cracked the collective. Shrillness and extremism quickly replaced rational discourse among even the most renowned activists, who had been allies for years. And given their standing, their divisions set the tone for all those who followed. With time, retaining revolutionary legitimacy meant maintaining extreme and emotional positions that offered little in the way of compromise.
Those who in principle fought for freedom of expression and diversity in opinion then silenced opposing points of views.
Many activists realized that if they wanted to climb the social hierarchy, they needed to claim to be the only individuals not to have sold out, and build their legitimacy by targeting everyone else’s integrity. In return, they would gain the adoration of thousands of new Twitter followers. This means of mediated ascension was nothing short of disastrous.
A unified political decision became impossible. Joining political parties meant you betrayed the revolution for the sake of playing politics. Running for office meant you were a power-hungry sell-out. Voting meant you were participating in a charade and betraying the blood of those who had died protesting. Meanwhile, the dead were immortalized and turned into social media avatars before they were even buried. In turn, many were used to score policy points or advance political arguments. Protesting became an end to itself, without leading to the creation of anything resembling a concrete or organized structure.
The inevitable conclusion was simple, yet tragic. The revolutionary movement contracted into a strange cultish religion, with its own prophets, saints, martyrs, religious practices, enemies of the faith, and apostates worthy of death. This not only alienated thousands of people who believed in the revolution, it also made it reactionary, open to manipulation, and easy to vilify and destroy. It was group-think on steroids—an abomination of a monster with thousands of arms and no brain.
A WORLD WITHOUT LEADERS
The Egyptian revolution and its aftermath demonstrated what happens to societies when they gain broad access to technology and connectivity. These capabilities can create a space for new political voices to be heard, while simultaneously killing the democratic political process. Though Egyptian youth participation peaked in the weeks following the revolution, it has been in steady decline despite the rising number of elections over the past four years. While this may be attributed to special conditions in Egypt, it is more likely part of a broader, global trend.
CCTV News, Editor: 张锐 丨Xinhua, by Mahmoud El Fouly