Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Twitter and Iran

This has been getting quite a bit of media attention, but it is interesting to note that the best coverage of the protests and the civil unrest following the elections (or approximation thereof) in Iran has been on sites like Twitter.

Twitter, the microblogging phenomenon, which sacrifices length and depth for near instantaneous publication, has almost single-handedly kept the Iranian protests (some may say revolution) in the consciousness of Americans.

First, Iran shut down mobile phone and text messaging services, then they closed off access to sites like Gmail and Yahoo. Today, Iran barred foreign journalists from covering the protests. But they can't seem to totally shut down access to Twitter.

Over the course of the day, Iranians updating their 'statuses' from Iran have brought critical information to light about how paramilitary forces are repressing their protests. As Iranian government cyber-warfare shuts down access to proxy after proxy, other Twitter users around the world are opening new ones, and changing their profile information to make it look as if they, too are living in Iran, thereby making it harder for the security forces to track the anti-government protesters.

The whole landscape is fascinating, because this may be the first time that people driven, so-called 'social' media, is significantly contributing to the coverage (and potentially the outcome) of a major world event.

There has been an outpour of support from Americans on Twitter, encouraging these protesters to continue to fight to have their votes counted.

To keep up with the latest, use a site like Twitterfall or Twitter Search and search for the term #iranelection or #gr88

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