COM0014 – Blog #2: Egyptian activist brings opinion makers and readers to social media for civil conversations

The Egyptian activist, Wael Ghonaim, who was one of the symbols of the 25th of January 2011 Revolution, has recently launched a new social media platform that leverages the value of conversations between opinion makers and ordinary readers.

Parlio, the new platform discussion, offers Internet users a new approach toward social media, drawing more attention to the content of the discussion. The new social media platform allows users to engage with writers, journalists, and thinkers from all over the globe. It values disagreements, debates, and tolerance. Among the members of Parlio from the United States are Fareed Zakaria, the CNN host, Walter Pincus, a National Security journalist for The Washington Post, and Michael McFaul, a Stanford Professor and former US Ambassador to Russia.  Parlio’s board also includes famous Middle Eastern and European scholars and writers. The social media platform also has a Q&A section, which gives the opportunity for readers to raise questions and get answers from journalists, professionals, and scholars.

Wael Ghonaim hopes that Parlio will help social media users continue to spark civil conversations and focus on the qualitative side of it, while keeping the quantitative aspects of social media that still gain great attention from users, such as number of followers, likes, and shares. So far Parlio’s writers, journalists, and readers embarked on conversations and issues that concern people North America and the Arab World, such as discussion about ‘sharing economy and social exclusion’, ‘Saudi women rights’, and ‘the importance of democracy’, and other topics that are not less important.

Ghonaim, who was working for Google Venture in 2011, resigned from Google in December 2014 to start his own social media endeavors, Business Insider reported. He was one of the main causes of the 25th of January Revolution in 2011, when he created a Facebook page entitled “We are all Khaled Said”. The page was Ghonaim’s response to the brutality of the Egyptian police that killed Khaled Said, and Egyptian activist, in June 2010. By January 2011, Ghonaim utilized the Facebook page to mobilize Egyptians against President Hosni Mubarak, a Former President of Egypt.  The Egyptian police detained Ghonaim for 11 days.  His release was a sign for the collapse of the Egyptian regime that attempted to contain the anger that broke through on Friday, the 28th of January 2011 and remained until 11th of February 2011, forcing the Egyptian President to step down after 18 days of uprising.

The Time Magazine selected Ghonaim as “one of the 100 most influential people of 2011 because of his role in sparking the Egyptian revolution”. Ghonaim who often criticizes the current regime of President Abdel Fatah el-Sisi had to leave Egypt amid the Egyptian police crackdown of Muslim Brotherhood and secular activists in 2014, saying that “Egypt no longer welcomes those who are like me”.



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