At the time of the Egyptian revolution, Wael Ghonim was working as Google’s regional marketing manager in the Middle East and North Africa. As a result of a Facebook group he created, he was arrested, beaten, and later nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for his instrumental role in overthrowing then-president Hosni Mubarak.
At the Dublin Web Summit, Ghonim discussed how the Facebook group ‘Kullena Khaled Said’ (meaning ‘We are all Khaled Said’) and online surveys he generated helped to empower the people of Egypt and encourage them to band together against their autocratic government.
The ‘keyboard freedom fighter’ has since written a book about his experience and the power of technology at a time of revolution. Though he does not accept that the Egyptian revolution was a ‘Facebook revolution’ – he says it was a people’s revolution – he does believe that social media and new technology can empower people to effect change quickly.
Ghonim was later joined on stage by Joe Green, co-founder of NationBuilder, and Maya Baratz, head of new products at ABC News. The panel discussion that followed, chaired by Max Chafkin of Fast Company, further explored how technology and new media play a role in social revolution and politics.