Accounts of the protests that brought down the Mubarak government stressed the role of new internet-based social media, which helped organisers and supporters plan the protests. The critical event in toppling the regime, however, was the initial seizure of Tahrir Square on 25 January – a development in which the social media functioned partly as a decoy. Knowing that the security forces would use violence to break up any attempt to occupy the square, the organizers used social media to plan protests at twenty sites in working-class districts of the city, hoping to strain the security forces by dispersing them to multiple locations, while drawing large crowds that would increase the chance of breaking through security cordons and linking up at Tahrir Square. They planned one additional gathering, in Bulaq al-Daqrur, a working-class neighbourhood close to the centre of the city, with an industrial workforce employed in a nearby cigarette factory and in railway yards. They avoided announcing this gathering over the internet, allowing a crowd of several hundred to gather without the presence of security forces. This was the group that marched to Tahrir, swelling to several thousand along the way, and seized the square, by which time the protest was too large for the armed police force to crush.*
* Footnote: Charles Levinson and Margaret Coker, ‘The Secret Rally that Sparked an Uprising‘, Wall Street Journal, 11 February 2011.
Mitchell, Timothy. Carbon Democracy: Political Power in the Age of Oil. Verso; London. 2013. p. 229