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Web 2.0 and Democracy

Secretary of State Hilary Clinton on Wednesday defended a US request to Twitter to postpone a planned maintenance shutdown as a way to allow Iranians to speak out and organize. (1)

The last presidential election in Iran that caused many protests throughout the capital city of Tehran continues. Despite the government’s Tweeter blockage; tweets, pictures, SMS messages, Facebook pictures and messages continue floating around the globe.

Many of these protesters who are sending tweets out to the world are using proxy IPs, trying to confuse Iranian security services.

Twitter has been the instant front-runner of what many call “Iranian Twitter Revolution.” Posting images, opposition activist shared with the world photographic evidence of bloody protests and notified each other about scheduled protests in Tehran. (3)

When I’m not connected to Twitter it means that I’m disconnected from the world because the state TV doesn’t report many things!” one Iranian Twitter user told the AP.

Mishira who have organized social media activism in India, says the main reason to use this tools is the attention it generates in the international media. (2)

“Political organizers use these tools because they create a multiplier effect—not only do you get a story about the campaign but then you also get a story about the fact they are using social-networking tools,” Gaurav Mishra says. “So you get two stories for the price of one. The international media loves [the] social-networking world. But India or in Iran, their use is still somewhat limited.” (2)

The lack of on the ground reporters and the difficulty covering a story due to gubernatorial rules makes it really difficult to get an objective and realistic story in Iran.

“For now, these tools represent the best chance the demonstrations have of getting continue coverage,” says Ethan Zuckerman, a senior researcher at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society. “Social media are helpful in exposing what’s happening to the outside world, but it’s a mistake to think that these protests [in Iran] are because of social media. It’s more conventional things like word-of-mouth and phone calls that really bring massive numbers of people into the streets.” (2)

Other websites as Facebook, YouTube and Flickr have constantly been updated with information about these protests.

The Facebook “fan” page “The Leaders of Iran’s Election Coup,” currently has 22,108 “fans” and appears to the be the major hub on the social networking site for protest information. (2)

It is important to keep in mind that most information gathered from these social networks are biased and tend to favor the presidential main rival Mir Hossein Mousavi.

Most journalist who had visas to cover the elections have now been told that they have to leave the country. And the journalist who have permanent press cards have been told that are absolutely not allowed to film in the streets, it is prohibited. (4)

Edited by Roberto Araujo





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