Egypt’s revolution exploded when the internet was cut off.
Few governments have cut off access entirely; Myanmar did so in 2007, as did Nepal two years earlier. At least 40 countries filter specific internet sites or services. China does by prohibiting access to some foreign new services.
So Egypt’s action was almost unprecedented and instead of protecting the regime, it may have made its grip on power more precarious. Restricting or cutting off the internet is the digital equivalent of erecting the Berlin Wall and that is now in ruins.
We are witnessing a new birth of freedom – social networking of the people, by the people, for the people. Thanks to technology, democracy is becoming ubiquitous and power is literally being transferred to the people. Facebook has over 600 million users, twitter about 200 million and LinkedIn is planning an IPO. Egypt may no longer exist digitally, but Facebook as a country is over seven time its size.
Not just people but politicians have embraced social networking. President Obama and Lady Gaga love to tweet and she has 1.5 million more followers.
Even the Federal Reserve enjoys blogging.
The latest thought leadership celebrates a new social marketplace. Corporations are replacing years of pushing products out to customers with the study of tweets, cookies and digital sound bites. The new corporation is a socially intelligent one and it is painfully aware of a market that has shifted from push to pull.
Broadcasting is a prime example. We used to have to watch only programs shown by the networks. Now we can view what we want when we please with Netflix and online TV.
But what about the banks?
Big banks are holding back because of regulation. Data privacy laws hinder bank social networking and the trend in finance is towards greater content control, not less. But smaller financial institutions – credit unions and banks – have been more adventurous using social networking to build communities and enhance their brand.
But the march of consumer technology into the enterprise is relentless. Power has shifted quite noticeably from institutions to individuals as consumers and employees.
Whether banks embrace social networking now or later, they face a new social marketplace, and must adapt accordingly.