The Face of Egypt's Social Networking Revolution
Wael Ghonim was the social networking voice that helped kick off Egypt's revolution. (CBS)
The peaceful Egyptian revolution had a distinct goal, but no clear leader, reports CBS News correspondent Seth Doane.
Yet, from the masses, a handful emerged, including Wael Ghonim. His "tweets" offered both a narrative and a nudge to protesters.
"He has sort of been tweeting every day, almost every hour," said CNET.com's Declan McCullagh. "He has been saying this is what I'm doing this is how we are going to bring democracy freedom to Egypt. He has developed quite a massive following, he has become a figure head of this revolt. I guess we can now call it a revolution."
It generally acknowledged that Ghonim's Facebook page first sparked the protests. Titled "We Are all Khaled Said" -- it memorialized an Egyptian businessman who had been beaten to death by police after threatening to expose corruption.
The page called for protests on January 25th. That became known as the "Day of Wrath" as thousands poured onto the streets.
Ghonim's arrest on January 28th by Egyptian authorities and release 12 days later only added to his legend.
When Ghonim is mentioned, usually his company is too:
"Google executive Wael Ghonim...," said CBS News anchor Katie Couric on a Feb. 11 CBS Evening News broadcast.
He's the Middle East and North Africa marketing manager at Google.
So far Google has commented only briefly.
"We can't comment on his personal beliefs. He's on leave at the moment and we look forward to having him back at Google," reads a Google statement.
"It's a little bit tricky this relation here, because again this an employee of Google yes, but he is acting on his own time and activities that are not related to his responsibilities at Google," said Robert Salomon.
Salomon says companies in emerging markets - like Egypt - where governments are big customers, need to be careful not to "bite the hand that feeds them".
This relationship could be both a good thing and a bad thing for Google, according to Salomon.
"Well on the one thing it could be a bad thing to the extent that Ghonim's activities raise some questions or jeopardize some relationships Google has in Egypt. However it might be a good thing if people now view Google as a good place to work and a place that allows young people to have a voice," said Salomon.
A voice that ushered in a social revolution in Egypt -- where the most powerful weapon -- was social networking.
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