Bloggers Launch Innovative Campaign to Free One of Their Own
For Immediate Release
Contact: Mary Joyce ([email protected], Skype name: demoblogger)
On Sunday May 7, Alaa Ahmed Seif El Islam, a prominent Egyptian blogger and political activist, was detained in Cairo by the Egyptian authorities while protesting the earlier detention of political activists rallying for a free judiciary.
Although illegal detentions are not uncommon in Egypt, this case drew special attention because Alaa’s blog aggregator, Alaa and Manal’s Bit Bucket, has made him a well-known figure in the blogosphere. Soon, news of Alaa’s arrest had spread to blogs across the world. Bloggers advocated different actions in an effort to free Alaa, including writing to Egyptian Embassies around the world and posting a “free Alaa” banner on their blogs.
On Tuesday, a group of bloggers connected to the site Global Voices decided to launch a different kind of campaign, one that would use the mechanics of the internet itself to bring world-wide attention to Alaa’s case. They launched a campaign called “Google bombing for Alaa,” an effort to manipulate the ranking of the world’s search engines so that a blog dedicated to freeing Alaa (http://freealaa.blogspot.com/) would be the first page displayed when a person searches for information on the word “Egypt.”
Internet search engines, most notably Google, determine the ranking of a site according to how many other sites link to it. If you search the term “Egypt” on Google, the first page you will see is the page most often linked to the word “Egypt” by other websites. Google bombing manipulates this formula. If many people around the world link the word “Egypt” to the Free Alaa blog, then that site will move up in the rankings.
Already, bloggers from around the world have written “Google bombs for Alaa,” blog posts that contain instances of the word “Egypt” linked to the Free Alaa site, in an effort to move the blog up in the rankings. Google-bombing for Alaa allows bloggers around the world to become activists, using the power of the link to bring attention to an unfair detention and free their fellow blogger. A certain passage of text has become popular in the posts and exemplifies the spirit of the campaign:
“Some governEgyptments think they can trampEgyptle the rights of those that oppEgyptose them and noEgyptone will notEgyptice. Well, that fact is changEgypting and we are changEgypting it.”
Examples of blogs participating in Google-bombing for Alaa:
Background on Alaa’s arrest:
People to contact for more information:
1. Manal (Alaa’s wife and co-blogger on Alaa & Manal’s Bit Bucket) – [email protected]
2. Amr Gharbeia (Alaa’s friend & fellow Egyptian blogger) – [email protected]
3. Sandmonkey (prominent blogger and Free Alaa activist) – [email protected]
4. Mustapha (Google-bombing for Alaa coordinator, Lebanese blogger) – [email protected]
5. Haitham Sabbah (Google-bombing for Alaa coordinator, Global Voices Middle East Regional Editor, blogger) – [email protected]
6. Mary Joyce (Google-bombing for Alaa coordinator, digital democracy blogger) – [email protected]