Will Egypt Be The Next Facebook Powered Revolution?

Hard on the heels of the recent Tunisian protests, 85,000 people have pledged on Facebook to attend a nationwide protest against Egypt's current government. Meanwhile, the Egyptian government has already declared the rallies illegal.

After being wildly credited as the channel through which young rebels were able to organize the social uprising that recently put an end to Tunisia’s 23-year-old government, Facebook may be now facilitating another “spontaneous” social movement in Egypt.

Amid growing social and political turmoil in African countries like Algeria and Yemen, 85,000 people pledged on Facebook to attend a nationwide anti-government protest in Egypt today, January 25. The protest is obviously running on the “spirit” of the recent events in neighboring nation Tunisia. Activists from the 6th of April Youth Movement and Egypt’s Kifaya movement are behind this and other Facebook and Twitter invites.

Ironically, today’s protests will coincide with a national holiday that honors the police forces — instrumental in having kept President Muhammad Mubarak in office since 1981.

According to independent Egyptian newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm, Egyptian activists are demanding, among many issues, the dismissal of the Minister of Interior, who is blamed for a myriad of human rights violations, and the limitation of presidency up to two terms.

For today’s protests in Egypt, the main Facebook page explicitly points to four meeting places around Cairo. Egyptian activist Khaled Kamel worries that this might have been a mistake: “Because of that, security is going to be prepared,” he told Time magazine. Moreover, mass demonstrations without prior authorization are banned in Egypt; anyone protesting today could be arrested.

Organizing social movements through Facebook makes it too easy for certain governments to track down protests, and thus be better prepared. And yet, it seems that if this protest happens at all, it will already be a huge success for the people of Egypt, and perhaps a wake-up call for authoritarian governments everywhere; social media can help give oppressed people a voice and a tool to come together.

What do you think is going to happen in Egypt? Will people show up? How instrumental do you think Facebook is in helping out with social protests?