Social media and the Iranian election
On Wired.com, Andrew Exum is wondering all about Iran and the explosive use of social media to organise, agitate and protest in Iran. He’s wondering how real it all is? And if it is the technological enabled few rather than the digitally deprived masses.
He wrote: “Are we simply finding common cause with a
technologically-assisted minority and confusing it for a popular
movement? One observer of the Moldova protests noticed the way in which
we Westerners get fascinated by ‘Twitter revolutions’ because, hey! We
use Twitter too!”
The Wired piece quotes others who are not convinced, but from the pictures it looks bigger than the technological few. The few might have Twitter accounts, but they are it seems being used to organise and bring others together in massive protests.
#IranElection is the top search term on Twitter which is being used
by Iranians to co-ordinate protests and post photos and messages in the
wake of the presidential election on Friday.
The opposition reformist candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi is using updates via Twitter and is using it to rally his supporters. One message on Mousavi1388 asks:
“Confirmed by BBC Persian, please tell everyone to join them: Mousavi,
Karoubi & Khatami will be at the protest. #IranElection”
When it appeared that Twitter was about to shut down for 90 minutes downtime
tonight for maintenance, Twitter decided to reschedule the maintenance
so the protests could go on.
Mousavi’s Twitter feed also made a direct appeal to Twitter: “@twitter
Twitter is currently our ONLY way to communicate overnight news in
Iran, PLEASE do not take it down. #IranElection”
Yesterday @Mousavi1388 had 7,000 followers on that particular Twitter
feed and today it has nearer 10,000. Another Twitter feed @StopAhmadi
has more than 7,000 followers. A third feed, @Persiankiwi, has more
than 18,000 followers.
The Twitter feed is being used as an
unofficial media channel and one that is becoming indispensible for
journalists covering the post election story. A tweet this morning,
says: “URGNT@ ALL jornlsts, Tday 15:30 Prss Conf. in Tehran, Sadr
MotrWay, Kave Shomali Blvd, Roshanayi St, Bahar Shomali St. Num. 9
Mousavi’s Facebook page
has more than 53,000 supporters and many Facebook members have posted
video while others are trying to persuade fellow Facebook users to
change their personal icons to the colour green to show support for the
Users on Twitter are also trying to persuade
fellow tweeters to change their location to Tehran to make it harder
for agents of the interior ministry to track down protesting Iranians.
are also playing a major role. Iran has always had a large community of
bloggers, not least because the number of young people in the country,
and many are writing about the protests and like photoblog Tehranlive.org are posting photo updates hourly.
The increasing array of Twitter apps are all playing their role in the protests. Twitter search engine Twazzup is tracking all things Iran-related on Twitter.
Valadbaygi’s ‘Revolutionary Road’ is one that provides a good source
for pulling various coverage of the protests together.
As well as Iranian bloggers international news organisations, including the BBC, which with its Persian service has become a focus for Iranians and widely praised although it was being jammed intermittently over the weekend, and blogs like the Huffington Post, The Atlantic’s Andrew Sullivan’s blog and the New York Times’ The Lede blog are covering the aftermath of the elections in detail.
such as the National Iranian American Council is live blogging events
blog aggregation site Global Voices has a special section and is
translating reports from the Iranian blogosphere.
CNN has not had a good protest. It has come in for some heavy criticism for failing to focus on Iran in depth and thousands used the label CNNfail on Twitter to vent their frustrations. Since then CNN has since ramped up its coverage, but it could be too little too late.