Monday, September 21, 2009

Attacking Iranian Censorship Through Social Media

With the dubious Iranian presidential election held in June and the subsequent deluge of mass protests, rioting and then arrests and gripping violence by the government to counter the swell, technology and specifically Twitter has been highlighted as an important tool to attack and scale the stark wall of totalitarian censorship.
After the fraudulently-perceived reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the loss of reform candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, upset supporters of Mousavi took to the streets in peacefully and in some cases violent protest. Most foreign news journalists were barred from the demonstrations in an attempt by Tehran to manage the message. But thanks to the Internet, the message escaped and we were shown the harsh realities ensconced in Ahmadinejad's Iran.

The growing influence of social media and more broadly the Internets' reach as a means to express frustrations, help people gather and to spread world news has been given sharp illustration by these protests. Iranians posted links to videos, blogs and used Twitters' supplied 140 characters to direct people to meeting places and to avoid certain areas, all in almost real time. Probably the biggest sign of Twitters growing importance in getting information out to the world from behind the wall of government censorship was the request made by the State Dept. The Washington Post reports-
"The State Department asked social-networking site Twitter to delay scheduled maintenance earlier this week to avoid disrupting communications among tech-savvy Iranian citizens."

The Internet and more specifically social networking sites like Twitter & Facebook have filled an important niche recently and the world of communication is better for it.

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