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Hundreds of thousands of Egyptians, many wearing bandages from from days of street fighting, turned out in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Friday for what they are calling the ‘Day of Departure’, a nationwide call for the immediate removal and prosecution of Hosni Mubarak who has ruled the country for 30 years.

Gil Scott-Heron once sang that the revolution will not be televised. The Tunisian revolution, and the continuing Egyptian uprising, would seem to refute the great man’s chorus.

The Middle East’s latest unrest has revived once again a tired debate about the power of social media. Recent headlines gush about the arrival of the “Facebook Revolution” or “Twitter Diplomacy.”

As events in Egypt move forward, the United States has appeared to be a befuddled bystander, reacting slowly and with a muted voice that cannot be heard above the din of those demanding freedom.

As events in Egypt move forward, the United States has appeared to be a befuddled bystander, reacting slowly and with a muted voice that cannot be heard above the din of those demanding freedom.

The State Department has been working furiously and mostly behind the scenes to cajole and pressure Arab governments to halt their clampdowns on communications and social media. In Tunisia there seem to have been real results. In Egypt, it's too soon to tell.

Citizens in Egypt have been using Twitter, Facebook and other pathways of the Internet to communicate to the outside world, challenging the government of President Hosni Mubarak. Authorities have shut down Internet services, but protesters are finding ways to get information out and organize mass rallies. While Egypt's government has to shut down Internet services, the U.S. State department is using Twitter and other social media service for statecraft and diplomacy.

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