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Egypt: On Twitter, the Search for Wael Ghonim

Categories: Middle East & North Africa, Egypt, Digital Activism, Freedom of Speech, Human Rights, Protest, Technology

This post is part of our special coverage of Egypt Protests 2011 [1].

On Twitter, friends express concerns for Egyptian blogger and Google Middle East staffer Wael Ghonim, who has been missing since Thursday. Ghonim, who studied in Cairo and is now Head of Marketing at Google's UAE office, had tweeted [2] his intent to be at the January 25 protests:

Despite all the warnings I got from my relative and friends, I'll be there on #Jan25 protests. Anyone going to be in Gam'et Dewal protest?

Ghonim, who spoke at a recent Al Jazeera forum on Internet freedom, tweeted throughout the demonstrations on January 25. On the 26th, following the ban on Twitter, he expressed anger [3] at the censors in a tweet that would become a “top tweet”:

A government that is scared from #Facebook and #Twitter should govern a city in Farmville but not a country like #Egypt #Jan25

On the 27th, he asked followers to pray for Egypt, noting his own fear [4] for the day's events. Since then, his Twitter feed has been silent and friends are concerned that he's gone missing. At about 4:30 pm Cairo time, @mskayyali tweeted [5]:

Wael Ghonim @ghonim from Google Middle East is missing since Thursday. We need your help to spread the word and help locating him. #egypt

A few hours later, @sokkari tweeted [6] Ghonim's photo [7], asking readers in Cairo to share it and to look for him.


"Wael @Ghonim is missing since Friday," wrote @sokkari," Pls retweet to help find him."

Habib Haddad, a friend of Ghonim, tweeted [9] for people to take action:

SOS: Still not able to locate @Ghonim! Next step, try asking powerful ppl, Online and Offline, to make calls and help us locate Wael Ghonim

@mzaher also put a call to followers [10] to notify him if Ghonim was spotted:

Wael @Ghonim is missing since Thursday. If you know anything let me or @njarrar know. #Egypt #Jan25 http://twitpic.com/3uy2z5 [11]