Egypt: not as internet driven as we thought
> Egyptian protests continue - without Twitter and Facebook.
It's a common conceit among the interneterati that the unrest in Egypt either came about, or became significant, due to the effects of masses of people using the internet. It didn't. The unrest had been growing for a long, long time and Egyptians using the internet made practically no difference to the level of unrest within the country.
What t' 'net has effected is our methods of receiving news. So people wrongly assumed that just because we, in the west, almost require stuff to be fed to us through an internet connection - that the same MUST therefore apply everywhere else. It doesn't.
More dangerously; we make the assumption that somehow the internet is a sort of anti-establishment tool. That information we get from people "on the ground" makes us somehow closer to the truth and free of government spin and propaganda. In fact, believing information from one unknown, unvalidated and anonymous source is just as likely to be incorrect as believing it from any other. So while we might think that just because we're seen a posting from someone at the riots, that somehow everything they say must be true. Bzzzzzt. It's just as easy for either side to post stuff - we use our own biases and opinions to select which snippets of information we choose to believe, without having any clue abou the big picture.
I can see a time when, far from cutting off the internet during times of strife, governments will realise that they can manipulate foreign opinion just as easily as protesters - by using their own people, tweeting/FB-ing that the riots are really justa small group of criminals and there's really nothing to worry about. Of course, then human nature takes over. Since we all love a good crisis (especially when it doesn't affect us, directly) we're predisposed to always believe the worst. That means that whichever side can paint the most disastrous stories will easily win our sympathy. Maybe it's time to go back to believing what we experience ourselves and treating everything else with a healthy dose of skepticism?