One of the primary storylines of the Arab Spring has been the role played by social networking sites in helping anti-government protesters organize and convey their messages and experiences to the wider world. We hear less about activists condemning these social networking sites, but that's exactly what happened on Monday when Egyptian journalist and labor activist Hossam el-Hamalawy (pictured above next to graffiti celebrating the Egyptian revolution) accused Flickr of censoring his Piggipedia account in an appearance on Al Jazeera's The Stream.
What, you ask, is Piggipedia? The idea came to el-Hamalawy back in 2008, nearly three years before the Egyptian uprising. He'd create an account on the photo service Flickr, call it Piggipedia, and ask his readers to take photos of President Hosni Mubarak's security forces when they cracked down on protesters, upload those pictures to the account, and identify the officials and their abuses in captions. Building on the work of other Egyptian bloggers who'd been profiling police officers since 2004, the account would essentially become a public encyclopedia of "Mubarak's Interior Ministry pigs," as el-Hamalawy put it. A "police officer cannot show up for a demonstration, beat the hell of out of peaceful protestors, then walk home and go out in his neighborhood with his family to have fun," he wrote at the time. "They have to be exposed in front of their children, parents, neighbors and peers. Their pictures have to be everywhere, from the internet to the streets."