The Front to Defend Egyptian Protesters (FDEP) began in reaction to protests (and arrests) in Egypt in 2010. For a detailed analysis of the initiative, see our article in The International Journal of Information Communication Technologies and Human Development. As we note in that article, the Egyptian uprising – which came after this initiative began – underscored the necessary relationship between digital communication and grounded realities.
From international Facebook advice on how to handle teargas, to tweets asking for medicine and blankets in Tahrir square, social media behavior consistently responded to threats, exigencies and opportunities in the offline world. Many of these activities were directly influenced by the iterative practice of the FDEP. We wrote:
Founded by an informal coalition of activist groups and national NGOs, the FDEP mobilizes information via a variety of technologies and network strategies in order to protect peaceful demonstrators against human rights abuses. The small group of activists who originally conceived of the FDEP was technologically savvy and extremely well connected within the activist community nationwide. Employed at human rights NGOs and regularly participating in protests, this group recognized the role that public information could play in protecting protesters…
Work on the FDEP began with a multifaceted outreach program, including a formal invitation to every NGO in Egypt, and encour- agement for them to distribute information through their professional and personal networks, both online and off. Responses to this outreach afforded the FDEP an opportunity to assess the potential contribution of NGOs across a variety of fields. Within 48 hours, the official NGO network reached 31 organizations.
This resource assessment then informed the design and development of the initiative’s strategy ahead of and during protest events. For a detailed look at the interplay between offline and offline tactics and media used to spread awareness about arrested protesters and mobilize resources for their release, see the above diagram. Read more about the initiative at The International Journal of Information Communication Technologies and Human Development.