The mass protests that began against Egypt’s autocratic government five years ago this month were famously touched off by young people using Facebook and other social media. At that time, Facebook had 4.7 million members in Egypt; today it has some 26 million, more than 30 percent of the country’s population.
No wonder that the latest authoritarian regime running the country is directing its repression at the Internet platform as the fifth anniversary of the revolution approaches.
Last week the government of Abdel Fatah al-Sissi shut down a Facebook service called Free Basics, which offered free Internet services to Egyptians on mobile phones.
More than 3 million people had signed up for the program in just two months, including more than 1 million who were new to the Internet. That made Egypt’s the most successful of the 36 Free Basics services Facebook has launched in developing countries. Read more