CAIRO: What started as a common hashtag on Twitter turned into a full-fledged initiative calling for bridging the gap between the people on the street and online activists.
After Hassan Hamed noticed the mounting frustration towards the Tahrir Square protesters, he initiated a wide call on Twitter to communicate with the people on the street using the hashtag “#tweetshare3.”
His wake up call came when peaceful protesters were attacked as they marched from Tahrir Square to the Ministry of Defense in what became known as the Abbaseya clashes, which left 296 injured.
The protesters then released a joint statement accusing the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces of launching a smear campaign against the Tahrir protesters that caused a rift between them and the people.
That night, Hamed, known as @seksek on Twitter, started the hashtag – which translates into “Tweet the Street” – calling on activists to engage in dialogue with people on the street rather than talk to those with a similar mindset on Twitter.
“After what happened in Abbaseya, we were all frustrated that the people do not understand what we were doing for the country, there was an obvious a gap between those communicating on Twitter and the people,” explained Salma Hegab, who started “Tweet Share3” with Hamed, and a student at the American University in Cairo.
“I saw the hashtag and got in touch with Hamed so we could take it forward and put the idea into effect,” she recalled.
Together they set up a blog and Facebook page for the initiative which they explained is to get “the people on Twitter to take their ideas and debates out of their virtual world and out to the streets and communicate with people, the majority of whom are not privileged enough to have internet access.”
The official blog describes it as “an initiative by the people on Twitter with no political affiliation to take their activism out on the street and raise awareness of the people.”
“We wanted the idea to be organized and are preparing [a list of] common questions with answers so that when we go on the street and talk to the people we have our arguments prepared,” explained Hegab.
The initiative has been receiving a lot of feedback from volunteers who want to join, with the hashtag garnering a lot of tweets and around 5,000 members on the Facebook page.
Twitter users responded to the initiative, with most unanimously agreeing that online activism has to be taken to the street to communicate to the masses their ideologies and beliefs, in order to at least “get people to respect different opinions, which is one of the most basic necessities for democracy,” as one user puts it.
“Talking to people is the most effective way of short-circuiting the mass media’s control over people’s minds,” said one Twitter user.
“Protesters need to take to the streets, this is more important than demonstrations,” said another user, using the hashtag #TweetShare3.
“We are currently setting up a team and then we’ll start with holding lectures,” said Hegab, who noted that it will be similar to Tweet Nadwa, a series of seminars inspired by the social networking website.
“We’re a team, our common ground is Twitter and we’re working on getting the Twitter spirit on the street,” said Hegab, adding that this will be particularly crucial in the upcoming period in order to raise awareness among the people before the elections.