DALLAS - A defamatory anti-Muslim movie made in the United States on YouTube sparked a week of violence across the Middle East, then Friday, threats on two American campuses took over Twitter.
All you need is a cell phone to watch it all unfold and contribute to its momentum.
As an advisory to the Department of Homeland Security and a private security consultant, Mohamed Elibiary helps the United States government deal with the effects of social networks.
He can tell you which places in the world Twitter holds sway over Facebook, and where YouTube is not allowed. He can overlay the power of certain social networks on the maps of certain countries.
Elibiary was born in Dallas, but has relatives in Egypt, and he said social networks have in some ways become more powerful than countries.
"In an information age, the nation state becomes a weaker player, and information and social networks are much more influential in affecting public opinion," Elibiary said. "Governments are going to become weaker, and social networks are going to become more influential."
In this week where social misinformation has humbled the power of the United States, Elibiary said one way the U.S. can counteract social networks is by tapping the family networks already in place between Americans and their relatives overseas.
"Everybody has a family member overseas, in Egypt or Yemen, or somewhere in the world," he said. "Those relatives know the truth about the United States, and they can help strengthen a new kind of communication where the U.S. hasn't established itself yet."