Social Networking Strikes Again, Ctd

by Chris Bodenner

Gordon Reynolds narrates a riveting account of his role - and that of Twitter - in today's protests:

There had been tweets that protests would be staged in Tahrir Square and in the downtown neighborhood of Mohandeseen. These tweets were received by Egyptian authorities monitoring the hashtag #jan25, and they deployed a massive security 108307120 presence to deter any demonstrations. Officers stood in groups of 6 to 8, on nearly every street corner. They blockaded the entrance to the parliament building. The teams stood quietly with folded arms watching the empty streets as the sun rose over the Nile. ...Not a demonstrator was in sight, and sensing this protest had ended before would begin, I went home.

When I arrived, the Twitter hash #jan25 lit up. Someone said that earlier tweets had been deliberately planted as decoys to mislead authorities. Now, in dozens of real locations throughout the city, protesters had begun to mobilize. I ran out the door and took the subway back to Tahrir Square.

When I arrived, the protest had begun. In the street a group of close to 200 Egyptians, mostly men, were standing, chanting and waving flags. Blocking both sides of the street were lines of police in riot gear. Immediately surrounding them, outnumbering the protesters, were older Egyptian men and young women.

Continued here. Photo by Mohammed Abed/AFP/Getty Images.