Twitter and the Iranian Elections

A corporate blog such as this one is supposed to be professional, leaving personal and political causes to other locations. It’s probably no secret to most that I have a personal blog (it’s not professional to explain too much about it, but here’s a hint…it’s about being a soldier’s mother). Politics is another area that tends to be forbidden when in the corporate realm but recent events have shown that innovation and politics often collide.

I’ve been watching the post-election events in Iran with great interest. I have always believed (on a personal level rather than a corporate one), that silence in the face of tyranny is, in many ways, as damaging as the tyranny itself. What fascinates me is that the Iranians were quick to cut off the media and yet failed to shut Twitter down. Thus, the voice of the people of Iran continues unabated to stream through to the world. I have been watching the #IranElection. What is happening is a revolution – perhaps not on the streets of Tehran, but certainly in the world of communication.

In the past, if media was allowed into the war zone, there was international coverage (or not). Where the media was restricted, international coverage was restricted or controlled. In the Second Lebanon War, Hezbollah took journalists to specific sites, to maximize the impression they wanted to portray. Attempts by foreign journalists to reach other areas were restricted or denied. The media was, in effect, controlled and lead to the conclusions that Hezbollah wanted released.

In this case, Twitter allows Iranians in Iran to express themselves and tell the world what is happening in real time. By going to #IranElection, you can watch and listen to a world that Ahmadinejad and the Iranian government is trying to control and stifle. No one can know, at this stage, whether the reports coming from Twitter posts is accurate but they are certainly chilling.

  • RT @IranNewsNow: iReporter told CNN that PEOPLE HAVE BEEN KILLED in UNIVERSITY dorms.
  • Winston80: Talked to many ppl tonite in Iran via phone. Everyone s willing to pay the price 4 freedom. External support s crucial.
  • This #IranElection proves that one Twit can change the world.
  • people trying to gather for march. roads blocked everywhere.
  • country at standstill. like war time. people frightened. reports militia carrying live ammunition
  • I am online for few minutes. total communication blackout here. gov panicking. very dangerous
  • internet very slow. dialup only. no facebook, no bbc, cnn nothing. even arab stations blocked.
  • mobile phones down. sms, outage, facebook and all news channels out.

And yet, Twitter continued. At the same time, in return, people around the world are sending messages of support, and these too are being delivered:

  • The people of the world support you. I hope soon you will have freedom.
  • What do you want people outside Iran to do? (as a friend said: “lets get deep” in this)

One blogger commented correctly that it is wrong to think that Twitter is fueling the revolution. Several Twitter avatars (the small pictures that help identify each person’s unique identity on Twitter) have been changed to include green, the color chosen to symbolize the fight against Ahmadinjed taking place now in Iran.

No, Twitter is not fueling whatever protests are taking place in Iran.  What it is doing is enabling the Iranians to feel that despite their government attempts to suppress their voice, they are being heard.  This is, in the truest sense, the meaning of social media and as it is being tested now, it seems to be triumphant.