In the spring of 2008, industrial workers in the northern Egyptian town of Mahalla erupted in widespread protest over low wages and a concurrent rise in the price of basic food staples like bread.
The demonstrations in Egypt's northern Delta were eventually quelled violently by police forces under the regime of then-president Hosni Mubarak. In the ensuing melee, an American journalist was caught in the police crackdown.
Before his arrest, the journalist had time to type out one word on a telephone using a nascent micro-blogging service.
"Arrested," tweeted James Carl Buck to his list of followers, who eventually helped secure the young man's release.
Since then, Twitter has emerged as one of the world's preeminent sources of instantaneous news, current events, live commentary, and celebrity gossip. Where else can you find the latest thoughts of President Barrack Obama, al-Qaeda, and Justin Bieber in one place?
In the Middle East, some observers credit social media like Twitter for giving anti-government activists the flexibility and anonymity to coordinate behind the backs of massive state security apparatuses in countries like Tunisia and Egypt.
But for the same reasons that Twitter may have helped bring about the Arab Spring - real-time updates and the power of quick dissemination of ideas - Twitter can also pose a danger to some.
Political figures, often heavily scripted and well-rehearsed, can tweet off-the-cuff remarks that land them in hot water. Just ask American representative Anthony Weiner, who could face a congressional ethics probe after he admitted Monday to sending lewd photos of himself to a woman through Twitter.
In the Middle East, political figures and public offices have started using Twitter for the same reason as politicians in the US - communicating with their constituents, crafting their, message, and managing their image - especially with younger generations.
So if you're not already following the Twitters below, check them out for a window into the Middle East and North Africa.
And who knows? One of them, just maybe, might have their own Weiner moment on Twitter someday.
Fawaz Al Khalifa (@fawaz_alkhalifa)
- Head of Bahrain's Information Affairs
- Sample Tweet: "No foreign troops were used to confront the population. #bahrain"
Khalid Alkhalifa (@khalidalkhalifa)
- Foreign Minister of Bahrain
- Sample Tweet: "What we are witnessing in Manama is no peaceful protest .. It's wanton, gangster style takeover of people's lives"
- The Official Twitter Account of The Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Sample Tweet: "HM the King: the nation needs a leader, men and clerics to preserve its form, morals, customs, existence and character #Bahrain"
Egyptian Cabinet (@Cabinet_EG)
- The interim government of Egypt
- Sample Tweet: "The Cabinet welcomes the decision of the Secretary of State on lifting the travel ban for Americans in Egypt." (translated from Arabic)
Mohamed ElBaradei (@ElBaradei)
- Former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency and possible candidate for Egypt's presidency
- Sample Tweet: "Went 2 vote w family attacked by organized thugs. Car smashed w rocks. Holding referendum in absence of law & order is an irresponsible act"
The Muslim Brotherhood (@ikhwanweb)
- One of Egypt's largest Islamist movements, once banned under Hosni Mubarak
- Sample Tweet: "Will slow and steady win the race?: Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood has declared that it will form a political party ... bit.ly/fh0MJh"
Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu)
- Prime Minister of Israel
- Sample Tweet: "Two nations, two peoples bonded in liberty seeking freedom & peace for all, thank you for the American Israel Alliance. Thank You #AIPAC2011"
Danny Ayalon (@DannyAyalon)
- Deputy Foreign Minister of Israel
- Sample Tweet: "I'd be glad to offer some tips on social media to President Obama some time ;-) http://fb.me/XV3c5Gu3"
Israeli Defense Forces (@idfspokesperson)
- The armed forces of the state of Israel
- Sample Tweet: "5 mortars and 4 rockets have been shot from Gaza today"
Ministry of Foreign Affairs (@ForeignMinistry)
- The Foreign Ministry of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
- Sample Tweet: "Jordan condemns use of force against any civilians in Libya. Ministry working to secure return of all Jordanian wishing to leave."
Nasser S. Judeh (@NasserJudeh)
- Jordan's Foreign Minister
- Sample Tweet: "Israel's killing of unarmed arabs in the Golan unacceptable by any standards."
Rania Al Abdullah (@QueenRania)
- The queen of Jordan
- Sample Tweet: "His Majesty:We don't fear reform & will respect Dialogue committee's recommendations on amendments related 2 parliamentary life. #WeAreAllJo"
Al Qassam Brigade (@AlqassamBrigade)
- The military wing of Hamas, based in the Gaza Strip
- Sample Tweet: "Hamas is a political party, not a terrorist group - Ezzedeen Al-Qassam Brigades http://bit.ly/ironJC"
Salam Fayyad (@FayyadSalam)
- Prime Minister of The Palestinian National Authority
- Sample Tweet: "We're not looking at a state that is going to be an autocracy.We are looking for a #state that is run based on democratic principles."
United Arab Emirates
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum (@HHShkMohd)
- Emir and ruler of Dubai
- Sample Tweet: "At the Epsom Oaks Classic race in England with Queen Elizabeth II yfrog.com/gzzh6a4j"
The above list is, of course, not comprehensive. But if we've left someone or something off the list that should be on it, send us a comment and we'll add it.