Egyptians celebrate in Tahrir Square after President Hosni Mubarak resigned and handed power to the military in Cairo, Egypt, Friday, Feb. 11, 2011. Egypt exploded with joy, tears, and relief after pro-democracy protesters brought down President Hosni Mubarak with a momentous march on his palaces and state TV. Mubarak, who until the end seemed unable to grasp the depth of resentment over his three decades of authoritarian rule, finally resigned Friday and handed power to the military.(AP Photo/Ahmed Ali)
While Cairo was revolting, we couldn't stop talking (and texting, and tweeting) about the role played by social networks like Facebook and Twitter. By allowing people to send messages instantly to large groups of people, social networking sites have, literally, changed the way we communicate. And we're seeing that in action in the Middle East.
But it's not just the big social networking companies being used by those demanding change. Smaller sites are seeing traffic soar, and it's not even the traffic they're used to. Take Badoo, for instance. It's global, used in places like Tunisia, Iran, and Cairo. It's not normally used to inspire revolution, though - Badoo is a dating site.
Prior to, say, last week, Badoo's claim to fame was its list of the most flirtatious cities. For the Middle East, that meant Tunis (Tunisia) in first, followed by Algiers, Cairo, Wahran (again in Algeria), and Rabat in Morocco.
At some point, the people who run the site noticed a trend: Flirting up, revolting up. Their theory? Young people flirt, they use social networks, they're likely to be well-educated, and they're the most likely to be taking to the street demanding change. The Badoo executive insist they're not trying to be flip or disrespectful, and it's hard to argue with their findings.
These revolutions have been called tech-savvy. If the big sites like Facebook are being shut down, why not reach for something smaller? And flirt your way to change.