Many times in the past, I’ve heard derisive comments once the words “Twitter” or “tweet” enter casual conversation.
‘It’s a phase,’ someone amongst the group would say with an accompanying snort. ‘It holds no credible value.’
A simpler comment is often ‘it’s just plain stupid.’ Followed by several nods of agreement.
But now citizens of Iran are using the apparently unserious and “stupid” online social networking site Twitter as means to communicate their green revolution to both themselves and the outside world. No – it’s not green in the environmental sense, but instead political – touting green in online avatars, T-shirts and banners in support of their Iranian presidential candidate, Hussein Mousavi.
It’s a revolution, though not quite to the scale of 30 years ago when the Islamic Revolution shook Iran. But a revolution, nonetheless. And social networking site Twitter is caught in its centre.
Twitter Makes Way for the Latest Twitter Movement
Even the developers and insofar as the U.S. State Department seem to acknowledge this new rush to the Twitter engine. According to the BBC, Twitter delayed rountine maintenance in order to keep the Iranian flow of protest information uninterrupted.
In the same article, U.S. State Department reportly contacted Twitter, stating ‘we highlighted to them that this was an important form of communication.’ Twitter co-founder Biz Stone stressed that the U.S. State Department did not ultimately make the decision.
Getting the Word Out
Television news networks such as the BBC have received video from green Iranian protesters, who are otherwise cut off from the rest of the world due to a government clampdown of media. For instance, this footage was sent by mobile to BBC Persian TV. It depicts pro-Ahmadinejad militia firing on Mousavi supporters peacefully protesting in the streets.
Social media is a fascinating thing. Its future steps are hard to predict. Now Twitter is part of a revolution that it likely never dreamed to play an integral part.
Click here to read a Guardian timeline of Iranian unrest since the election (updated automatically on every minute).
Click here to read an LA Times article on the twits and tweets of the Iran presidential election protests.
Click here to view more videos and photos sent from Iranian protesters to the BBC.
Click here to view IranElection, its tweets and its followers on Twitter.