facebook_150_logo.jpgEgypt has followed yesterday's block of Twitter with reported intermittent blocks today of Facebook and on Google tools and services.

Although too much can be made of social media's role in political activities, it certainly is not unimportant in the Egyptian uprising. The young, digitally literate Egyptians have made good use of them to bring the actions of disparate groups together.

Protests Continue Despite Block

Yesterday, up to 100,000 people protested in the streets of Egyptian cities, with the center of gravity in Cairo's Tahrir Square. Late last night, Egyptian police, along with civilian thugs and prisoners, cleared the square. Police shot protesters with rubber bullets and tear gas. Countrywide, three protesters and one police officer died.

Egyptians have used social media for years to organize protests and yesterday was no exception. In particular, the Facebook account We are all Khaled Said, dedicated to a man killed last year in Alexandria, called for, and reported on, the protests.

The block does not seem to have effected the turnout on this second day of protests. Yesterday, the protests were successful not merely due to the numbers but by the distributed nature of the gatherings. Flashmobs gathered in numerous parts of the larger cities and moved at a moment's notice. This may be harder to coordinate today, though it is not certain social media was used so much to move the groups as to report on their having moved.

Since yesterday, protesters have used proxies, Tor and other services to get around the Twitter block. Cairo resident Ahmed Zidan, editor of MideastYouth Arabic, posted on his Facebook that he is using Al-Kasir.

The blocking of additional services is hardly unexpected. The apparently abject failure of that blocking to stop the crowds gathering must be, at least to the government.

Anonymous Targets Egyptian Government Sites

Anonymous has announced Operation Egypt with a press release in Arabic.

It says a main government information and tech ministry site, www.mcit.gov.eg, is down, though that does not appear to be the case as of this writing. Another targeted site, http://www.moiegypt.gov.eg/, does seem to be down.

Resources

The #jan26 hastag on Twitter is augmenting, if not altogether replacing yesterday's #jan25. To follow the events unfolding today, consult any of the following. If you have additional sources, please post links in the comments.