Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Google, and the role of the Internet in Egypt

Whenever there is a political unrest anywhere in the world, many commercial business stay as far away as they can. The Egyptian story is no exception. I am yet to hear of any company publicly siding with either divide. I guess when your revenues exceed $20billion you may not see things that way.

Google is undoubtedly the world's most successful internet company. One might think they would want to have absolutely nothing to do with the crisis in Egypt. Google's name has however come up in two different incidences. These make one wonder and ask, 'what does Google want in Egypt?'.

Google partnered twitter and SayNow (a company it acquired the week before) to allow Egyptians post their comments, feedback and frustrations online by calling a phone number (+16504194196 or +390662207294 or +97316199855) and leaving a voice-mail. These messages were then posted to twitter for the whole world to see and respond to.

Just a few days after this initiative. Wael Ghonim, a young Egyptian Google manager was arrested after playing a key role in using the internet to spark the uprising against Hosni Mubarak. His actions were hailed by the protesters. Wael Ghonim, who went missing on 27 January, was behind a highly influential Facebook page that helped lead to what he described as "the revolution of the youth of the internet''.

I believe these actions have played major roles in assisting the protesters send their messages across, no only within Egypt, but across the whole planet. I believe in the freedom of expression, I hope you do too!