To Thank or Not To Thank Facebook, that is the real question.

Within the past three months, every news outlet has highlighted a developing story of a new country with civil unrest: Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, to just name a few. As the Egyptian revolution finally came to an end, many have attributed the magnitude of the protests to the prominent social media outlets of Facebook and Twitter. Once the government noticed that the protests were organized via Twitter, they proceeded to block access to the website. This fueled the organizers’ anger and forced them to heavily use Facebook. Many powerful images have reached television screens, blogs, and websites. This particular one, as seen above, caught my attention because the message was written in Arabic and Facebook was written in its standard English form. Richard Engel, the NBC reporter who originally tweeted the image, reported the sign translated to “Thank You Facebook”. However, I scrolled down to the comments to read the feedback that readers had left. Many stated that the sign didn’t quite say what Mr. Engel originally proposed. Determined to find the true meaning of the Arabic statement, I went to a Yemeni’s restaurant located around City College (CCNY) in Hamilton Heights named Queen Sheeba. I asked my waiter if he would please translate the sign for me and he stated that it read, “Thank You the Youth of Egypt. We will never leave”. Facebook may have been used to catch the attention of the camera lens or the author could have indirectly thanked Facebook for allowing the youth of Egypt to facilitate their organization of the protests. Moreover, Facebook has been perceived as the central platform in the Egyptian revolt, used to post videos and photos that go viral, receive thousands of views, engage fans to participate in discussions and disseminated the message within minutes. Indeed, Facebook allowed the revolt to reach what every organization hopes to accomplish for it's cause. However, looking at the background of the other Egyptians holding peace signs, the picture may have been propped to catch the attention of the American consumer. Perhaps the mistranslation of Richard Engel was one of tactful motives in order to engage the American public. Or maybe the mistranslation had no ulterior motive and it was a truly a mistake. It can be said without any doubt that social media, most importantly such websites as Facebook and Twitter- played an indelible role in shaping the Egyptian Revolution, which was carried out by the brave youth of Egypt.