Twitter gives voice to outraged Iranians
According to Reuters, the U.S. State Department asked Twitter over the weekend "to delay a planned upgrade that could have cut daytime service to Iranians" who are rioting in the streets to voice their displeasure over the recent results of that country's elections. Official results that show incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad winning in a landslide have been denounced by observers both inside and outside Iran as fraudulent.
The role being played by Twitter is difficult to determine but there is no doubt it is having an impact.
One Twitterer from Tehran blasted CNN for broadcasting the IDs of Iranians using the social networking service, accusing the cable channel of "risking lives for ratings."
Nonetheless, Twitter is proving to be a quick and efficient way to share information, according to media reports.
"Twitter users in Iran have shared pictures from street protests, passed on information about which cities are affected by internet and mobile phone outages and planned rallies and further protest," according to the Canadian Broadcasting Co.
Trita Parsi, founder and president of the National Iranian-American Council and an expert on Iranian-American relations, told DailyFinance that candidates for president decided to use social networking sites in the campaign after noticing how effective they were in the U.S. presidential election. He said that it was not surprising that Twitter was popular given how much Iranians distrust official media sources.
Iranian officials have tried to jam Twitter and Facebook, but Iranians are figuring out how to hack through these filters. These efforts, as The New York Times notes, have been dismal failures.
"A couple of Twitter feeds have become virtual media offices for the supporters of the leading opposition candidate, Mir Hussein Moussavi," the Times said. "One feed, mousavi1388 (1388 is the year in the Persian calendar), is filled with news of protests and exhortations to keep up the fight, in Persian and in English. It has more than 7,000 followers."
For now, Iran is telling outsiders to buzz off. According to the official IRIB News Agency's English Web site, "Majlis Speaker Ali Larijani said Americans are better to resolve their own political and security disgraces in the region instead of expressing concern over elections in the Islamic Republic of Iran."
That probably has been tweeted both in Farsi and English.