Friday, June 19, 2009
Citizen Reports of Iran Protests Show Social Media's Power Over Ahmadinejad
Could Hitler have been stopped if Twitter existed in the WW2 era?
In wake of the Iranian uprising against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, it's a question worth pondering.
Enraged by the controversial re-election, supporters of candidate MirHussein Mousavi are displaying their outrage, and revealing Iran's brutal police tactics to the world. This isn't the first example of social media impacting politics. Barak Obama's rise to the U.S. Presidency also opened the world's eyes to the power of social connectivity.
Iranian protests impressed the U.S. State Department to the point it persuaded Twitter to postpone a scheduled maintenance in order to allow the Iranians to continue their Tweets.
Washington Post reporter Mike Musgrove's article: Twitter Is a Player In Iran's Drama, took a closer look at the movement to determine if the Tweets were legit, since Twitter does not support the use of Farsior. According to a source in Musgrove's article, a group of Iranian students are relaying their info to a group outside of Iran.An Iranian-American activist in Washington said that tweets have been coming from a group of students relaying the news to contacts outside of Iran. An excerpt from the article reads:
A lot of people are coining what is happening in Iran as a Twitter revolution.... Many users, logging on from outside Iran, said they changed their account's location listing to Tehran, in a move to confuse government censors who might be trying to shut down communications from Iran.
Thomas P.M. Barnett , author of Great Powers and the former Senior Strategic Research officer for the Navy, offered his take on the social media revolution brewing in Iran. Barnett considers it a great example of "Individual-level global connectivity thumping government efforts at repressing protest by--in part--cutting off its media oxygen." Barnett added:
While it's relatively easy to round up the mainstream media, it's much harder to corral the peer-to-peer stuff--again connectivity trumping Orwell.
PBS talk show host Charlie Rose interviewed a panel of social media experts, including Chris Kelly, the chief privacy officer for Facebook. Rose asked Kelly: "Will we look back and say this was a turning point somehow, that technology became as much of an institution, as institutions have served so much in the past?
Kelly called the presence of the proxy servers and the social media response an "incredibly powerful symbol of resistance against the regime.
We’ve thought for quite some time that technology can play a powerful force in politics. That it had a great effect in this past presidential election. In the U.S. here and with one of our founders Chris Hughes going off and working with the Obama campaign. And it continues toaffect the organizing for social change around the world.
I tend to agree with internet tech expert Clay Shirky and his declaration that social networking has become the largest increase in expressive capability in human history. My next post will breakdown Shirky's presentation at the TED conference: How cellphones, Twitter and Facebook can make history. I'll break down his presentation in my next post.
By Matt O'Hern at 11:48 AM | Comments (1)