Iran protests meet the social Web: What we've learned

Iran protests meet the social Web: What we've learned

Summary: The aftermath of the Iranian election has provided quite a case study of the intersection between social media, the increasing difficulty of censorship and government affairs.As most folks know Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been reelected and the opposition has been protesting.

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The aftermath of the Iranian election has provided quite a case study of the intersection between social media, the increasing difficulty of censorship and government affairs.

As most folks know Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been reelected and the opposition has been protesting. Now there's talk about partial recounts and a global display of the Iranian divide over its future. But these protests are different: Everyone is a reporter. Here's what you learn when everyone has a phone, a Web connection and social media tools:

  • Censorship is much harder than it used to be. As the protests over the election escalate Iran has gone to a familiar playbook. Boot foreign journalists, clamp down on text messaging and seal off the Internet. Iran's elite guard is warning online media to stay away. The problem: Twitter. Users are rearranging their time zones to Tehran and doing what they can to throw off Iran's government. Something tells me China would be better at the clampdown.
  • Future revolutions will be broadcast. As Dan Farber notes, several sites are highlighting data in real time. Flickr photos of the protests abound. Twitter, Facebook and Flickr as well as blogs are filling the journalist void---especially since a lot of the pros have been booted.
  • The U.S. government sees social media as a useful tool. Perhaps social media is a way to stir unrest without getting your hands dirty. Think Twitter as foreign policy. When the State Department asks Twitter to delay an upgrade you know the landscape has changed. This government-Web 2.0 shuffle is interesting. On one hand, the State Department is encouraging Iranian Tweets. Twitter has to deny it's a state organ.
  • There may be commercial benefit here. No one will ever admit it right now, but there's some benefit for Twitter, which has become so intertwined with the news cycle that old media has to mention it. For Twitter, the Iran election has provided a sustained event that has proven its value.
  • A new chapter in social media has opened. Institutions will increasingly use social media tools like Twitter to get their messages across. Remember, Twitter has opened the State Department's eyes. Rest assured every other government agency across the globe has noticed too. That means social media will get its dose of propaganda too. The challenge will be filtering these competing messages.

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  • One thing we have also learned

    is that liberals are just as naive and ignorant as they have always been.

    Anyone who thought this election meant anything at all was a naive fool.
    Anyone who thinks this will end in any other way than the Mullahs
    ordering the troops out is a naive fool. Anyone who thinks Iran will
    change in any way because a bunch of people can tweet is a naive fool.
    frgough
    • The above message has been brought to you by the oracle (nt)

      nt
      Economister
      • No, the voice of experience.

        You see, I'm old enough to remember Tiananmen Square. Liberals waited
        in breathless wonder then, too. Lots of camera time on the university
        students, the famous photo of the lone student standing in front of a
        tank, the reproduction of the statue of liberty. The "pen is mightier than
        the sword" nonsense. All the stuff you are seeing now.

        Then the troops opened fire.
        frgough
        • And your point is.......? (nt)

          nt
          Economister
          • The point is

            The same thing will happen in Iran, and anyone who thinks otherwise is a
            naive fool. Dictatorships are not overthrown by university student
            protests.
            frgough
          • Well.....

            It depends on what you mean by "overthrown".
            Even China (your example) has changed a lot since Tiananmen, and will probably continue to change.

            Are you suggesting that the students and other young activists in Iran should buy guns and stage a violent revolution or are you suggesting they should go home because they are wasting their time? Your three posts so far offer no solutions, alternatives nor much perspective, but mostly statements about "fools".

            History has shown that peaceful, non violent opposition accomplishes a lot more in the long run than violent revolutions, which tend to replace one oppressive authority with another.
            The students of Iran will one day be its leaders. What they want will probably ultimately happen, it may just take a while. You can call that liberalism and the proponents "naive fools", but all that does is expose your own very limited perspective on such matters.
            Economister
          • What changes

            have happened in China regarding freedom and liberty? None.

            A solution for Iran was presented 20 years ago. It was called Iran
            Contra, and no, it isn't what you've been indoctrinated to think it was.

            Your comment about history demonstrates ignorance of history.
            Peaceful, non-violent protest works in democracies, never in
            dictatorships. Feel free to name one dictatorship that fell due to
            peaceful, non-violent protest. East Germany? Hungary? Cuba?
            Rhodesia? Zimbabwe? China? North Korea? Iraq?.

            The Students of Iran are it's leaders, now. Achmadinejad was one of
            the University Students who took the Americans hostage during Jimmy
            Carter.

            Dictatorships end when they are no longer able to use force to subdue
            the population. Either through economic collapse (soviet union) or
            because of an armed citizenry (American Revolution).
            frgough
          • History has shown . .

            "History has shown that peaceful, non violent opposition accomplishes a lot more in the long run than violent revolutions, ..."

            Nonsense. You can have your own opinions, but not your own "history".
            Ancient Proverb: ; "He who brings banners & posters to a gun fight soon becomes the holy one."
            karyn9999@...
          • @karyn999

            [i]Nonsense. You can have your own opinions, but not your own "history".
            Ancient Proverb: ; "He who brings banners & posters to a gun fight soon becomes the holy one." [/i]

            There's another proverb that goes "The pen is mightier than the sword."

            But does that proverb prove that going through the non-violent route is the sole answer? No. Just like the one you quoted doesn't prove violence is the sole answer either. You can also have your opinions, but not your own history.

            Both ways have worked throughout history. Both measures are called for in certain occasions. Saying a person's differing views are invalid because you don't see it that way is idiotic.
            tikigawd
          • RE: The point is

            ?The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.?
            [i]Frederick Douglass[/i]
            NCWeber
        • Remember when they roughed up Dan Rather?

          That was classic. "Get your hands off me!"
          Hallowed are the Ori
          • I also remember

            how all the media was talking about how dictatorships couldn't oppress
            their people anymore because they couldn't censor the information.
            Handheld camcorders and fax machines made it impossible to hide their
            secrets. The ease of accessing information would set the people free.

            The only question to answer to predict Iran's actions in the next few days
            will be: Do they want to lull Obama into false security thinking Iran is
            reformed, or do they want to exploit his weakness now?

            If the former, the election will be overturned and the new puppet will be
            installed. If the latter, they'll open fire on the students and protesters.
            frgough
    • You're awesome

      You seem like such a happy and optimistic person.

      You have everything figured out, and have all the fools pegged for what they are.

      I'd love to be your friend.

      Together we could reverberate the message to all those idiotic Iranians: "just stay home and take it."
      tikigawd
  • "Ye shall know the truth ..."

    "... and the truth shall set you free."

    Yes, absolutely - it is access to information that can sway public opinion and topple governments.

    History abounds with examples - William Wallace and the Scottish nationalist revolt (not the Hollywood version of Mel Gibson). The American Revolution. The French revolution. The Cuban Revolution. The Russian Communist Revolution. The Spanish Revolution. The Iranian Revolution that established a radical fundamental Islamic state. The rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan. The collapse of the Soviet Union.

    It is against the tide of knowledge of how the rest of the world lives that radical fundamental Islam is waging war in a desperate attempt to defend an oppressive way of life stuck in the sixth Century CE.
    Cardhu
  • RE: Iran protests meet the social Web: What we've learned

    Nobody knows social media is controlled by whom and what are their motives. But Pictures / videos are always revealing sametime are decieving as well. u never know ...........

    Adeel Rana
    adeel1004@...
  • Master Joe Says...

    What's the point of all of this? Watch the video above. It clearly states that the "ultimate power" in Iran has stated that the government will conduct an investigation. The ultimate power? What's that about? Iran is nothing but a dictatorship, trying to put on the mask of democracy. The President is nothing more than a figurehead, to make the people feel as though they have a voice, and a decision. Protest all you want. What you should be protesting is the infrastructure of the government, not who won or lost the election.

    --Master Joe
    SteelCityPC
  • Ehm, what is more important, twitter or those people?

    ...


    emenau
  • RE: Iran protests meet the social Web: What we've learned

    It's History Itself that Has Proven you Wrong...

    With the lens of history expanded a bit... (75 years of soviet rule, 125 years of British dominion over the American colonies, 1000 years of the Roman Catholic Church, etc. etc. etc., oppression usually wins battles, but ultimately never wins the war that ideas and societal interaction can conically resolve... the sword fails to win the hearts that the pen can command with but a stroke - think about it!
    tyelmene