What the herd is saying in Egypt

We’ve been getting a lot of inquiries on how to interpret the reports coming into Herdict from Egypt.  First a note on how Herdict works:  Herdict collects reports from individual users on the ground as to whether or not they can get to their desired site.  Herdict captures what users see as inaccessible at any given time; we’re not a definitive measure of filtering, but rather, an indicator.

Now, let’s take a look at the reports on Twitter.  We started receiving reports on the 25th of January coinciding with the first of the Egyptian protests.  Egypt, historically, has conducted only minimal Internet filtering, so we don’t have many reports from there prior to the 25th.  We saw a large spike of inaccessible reports for various websites–including Twitter–on the 25th and many comments from users surmising that it was the government behind the blockage.  Yesterday, we received 20 reports that Twitter was still inaccessible and 9 report that it was accessible again.  So far today, we’ve only received inaccessible reports.

Here are the Facebook reports from the last 24 hours.  We didn’t start receiving reports on Facebook until the 26th.  The vast majority of our reports thus far indicate that the site is inaccessible.

So, what does this tell us?   From what we know about Egypt, filtering is done at the ISP level, which explains the sporadic reports of inaccessibility we’ve received.  Coupled with reports from Egyptians on Twitter, we’re able to say that some degree of filtering has been happening, but we need more reports to make a strong determination.

What can you do to help?  Spread the word about Herdict.  If you’re new to Herdict, check out our reporter page, where you can submit reports from your country.  Or download one of our browser add-ons to report directly from your toolbar.  Encourage your friends to report blockages to Herdict.  The more people participating the clearer the picture of filtering will become.

Not in Egypt but want to help?  Check out Access Now’s Help the Egyptian People page.

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About the Author: lmiyakawa

Laura Miyakawa is the Project Manager for Herdict. In this role, she directs the tactics and the long term strategy for the site. Prior to joining the Berkman Center, Laura worked with the Boston Consulting Group, developing strategies for high tech clients up and down the East coast. While at BCG, she had the opportunity to work in outback Australia on a Welfare Reform pilot. Recently, she worked as a commercialization associate at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, where she handled all patenting and licensing decisions for the School of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering. Laura holds bachelors and masters degrees in electrical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University and MIT, respectively.

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