Under Mubarak’s regime, media in Egypt was firmly controlled by the state, including private media outlets. Those latter were forced into the same editorial line of the state-run media in order to broadcast. To add insult to injury, the state-run television owners were either relatives of the president or relatives to one of his cabinet ministers. People were not allowed to speak out against the president or his family, and all shows were controlled and closely supervised by the administration.
Starting from 2006, many people started discovering the “new tool” called the internet. Since then, Egyptians were able to upload videos on YouTube, either promoting their ideas or manifesting against something they did not like. By the end of 2009, more than 6 million Egyptians had a Facebook account. This change in the Egypt technology landscape made it easy for Egyptians to communicate and exchange information as never before.
After the Tunisian revolution, Egyptians started thinking about their own. As a matter of fact, the regime was so worried to the point the one could barely tell something was going on in Tunisia. Before the 25th of January, young Egyptians started uploading videos on the internet, especially on YouTube and Facebook. Those videos featured random people asking Egyptians to hit the streets on the 25th of January, in order to manifest against corruption and, above all, manifest against the autocratic regime of Hosni Mubarak.
Of course the state-run television did not talk about that; they even started accusing those young dissidents of promoting anti-nationalist ideologies. On the 25th of January, many people took to the streets for their rights. In that very day, many were hit by the police and many were killed in the event and the media kept silent. To counter this, and in order to communicate with the world, protesters resolved to the internet to show the world what is really going on, including some protesters organizing manifestations via social networks.
Mubarak understood what was going on. He understood that a curfew and a harsh repression system were not enough to stop the growing wave of dissidence, for “everything” happened on the net not on the streets. From the 28th of January to the 2nd of February, the government did not only filter the Internet’s content but cut access to 90% of worldwide websites. Yet this action did not silence the dissidence. They kept communicating on social networks by other means like Tweetdeck and Hootsuite.
After the end of the Egyptian revolution, traditional media changed the cap and started glorifying the revolution; the media was finally “free”. People were allowed to talk freely on the state-run TV, especially well-known dissidents who played a big role in the ousting of Mubarak. Not only that, social networks rocketed as Egyptians started using them more often. New media outlets were born. You name them: ON tv, CBC, Tahrir TV, Channel 25, Modern Horreya El Beit Beitak, New Egyptian television, bloom and others…
The removal of bureaucratic procedures made creating new media outlets a cherry on the cake. Even Islamists, Coptic Christians, and foreign investors could claim one.
by Amine Sabiry