Wael Ghonim is an activist who helped spark the Egyptian Revolution, a wave of protests and demonstrations in Egypt that were part of the Arab Spring, and which helped overthrow the long-reigning Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak.
Ghonim, who worked for Google at the time, used social media to unite Egyptians and create the movement in his country and was jailed for it. Thanks to social media and his connections at Google, Ghonim was freed in mere days. The same was not true for many of his friends.
Last week marked the five-year anniversary of the Arab Spring, but some have called the aftermath in Egypt a “bitter winter.” The revolution failed to bring change and there are reports citizens there are now worse off – the country has a new dictator, now lacks a free press and is flooded with propaganda, and activists are often intimidated and detained.
Ghonim now resides in the United States, along with his family, and has launched a new discussion platform called Parlio, which he hopes will continue helping to spark civil conversations.
The platform, available both on the web and iOS, is designed to encourage intelligent conversations around the issues of our day and utilizes social media and online articles to do so.
Parlio is still in the early stages and you must be invited to add to the conversation. You’ll also need to pledge that you will engage civilly before contributing to the discussion. The hope is that squashes trolling and flame wars often found on other social media threads.
I sat down with Ghonim and his team to discuss his new startup and how we can use online tools to create the change we want to see in our world.