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Egypt Is Using Social Media To Spy On Egyptians

Turning The Tools Of Revolution Against The People

We all remember the Arab Spring that started in Egypt 2010 and spread around the Arab world thanks to social media.  There were other factors in the Arab Spring revolts but the important role that social media played cannot be denied - so important that the Egyptian government at the time tried to cut off their country's internet access. Social media was used to spread awareness and organize protests and it was a success. Many dictatorships were overturned for more democratic governments.

However, four years later, Egypt's situation does not seemed to have improved. Long story short, their democratic government was overturned by the military. This government in partnership with See Egypt have launched surveillance systems to spy on Egyptians mainly through social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter and even Skype. This is a massive step back for all Egyptians fighting for freedom from dictatorship; if this system had been in place four years ago the Arab Spring may not have taken place, probably nipped in the bud by the government. Maybe that is the reason behind this increase in social media surveillance. The Egyptian government does not want its protesters to have a voice and organize themselves through social media, like it has been done before.

Buzzfeed spoke to an government official who enlightened them on what exactly they would be looking for:"We are watching conversations between Islamists, or those who discuss Islamism. We are watching communities, which we consider at risk.” With further probing, the communities that they considered at risk were not only Islamists but also homosexuals. Essentially the Egyptian government will be using social media to track down potential terrorists but mostly homosexuals and

"Blasphemy and skepticism in religions; regional, religious, racial, and class divisions; spreading of rumors and intentional twisting of facts; throwing accusations; libel; sarcasm; using inappropriate words; calling for the departure of societal pillars; encouraging extremism, violence and dissent; inviting demonstrations, sit-ins and illegal strikes; pornography, looseness, and lack of morality; educating methods of making explosives and assault, chaos and riot tactics; calling for normalizing relations with enemies and circumventing the state’s strategy in this regard; fishing for honest mistakes, hunting flesh; taking statements out of context; and spreading hoaxes and claims of miracles."

Any one who does not comply with their 'values' and is sarcastic will be at risk of their Facebook conversations being monitored by a government official. The Egyptian government is using the threat of growing Islamism to monitor individuals and communities that they consider disagree with their strict and conservative values. They are not leading a war on terrorists but rather a war on individuals who have the right to protest the government's decisions on social media as well as the right to be different.


Laura is a recent graduate from University of East Anglia in Film and Television Studies, currently interning as a content writer but hoping to one day live off her writing. Follow her @LauraAtSMF.

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Egypt Is Using Social Media To Spy On Egyptians Reviewed by Laura Veit on Tuesday, September 23, 2014 Rating: 5
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