Iran tweets while Tehran burns; Twitter election recount FTW

Twitter and other social networks are helping us understand what's happening in Tehran and the rest of Iran after the election. In IT Blogwatch, Richi Jennings watches bloggers feel bad for Iranians, but good about social-network-mediated transparency.

Not to mention how the Finns advertise newspapers...

Jim Goldman checks it out:

With tensions beginning to broil on the streets of Tehran, impeded journalists and citizens looking to get their messages out to the world are relying on the micro-blogging site Twitter, where even 140-character messages can carry some impact on the world's stage.

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In fact, Twitter apparently became so important to the process that US State Department officials are confirming today they made a request to the site to postpone a planned system maintenance that would have taken its service down for a while Monday night. Eliminating the service, even for a while, would have silenced an important outlet for Iranians trying to share what was happening in their country.
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Sharon Machlis agrees:

Worst. Timing. Ever. That was one of the many criticisms of a planned hour-long Twitter network upgrade, smack-dab in the midst of unprecedented demonstrations in Iran.

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Twitter has emerged as an important communication tool in Iran for those challenging the claim that Iranian president Ahmadinejad won re-election in a landslide, despite many indications that one of his opponents had much stronger popular support.
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Nick O'Neill basks in people-power:

Twitter became the unlikely hero of a large group of individuals who were calling for a vote recount and regardless of the outcome were furthering a movement. What’s becoming increasingly clear is the widespread impact that social technology is having on the world.

For the first time it feels as though we are part of something greater and that the people finally do have control. It’s an empowering feeling and as social technologists continue to iterate on their platforms, democracy is becoming a fact of life for regimes which previously ruled with an iron fist. Even within this country we are witnessing a transparency movement and we can thank the internet with the help of social technology for making this possible.
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As does John Palfrey:

These are heady days for the study of Internet and its relationship to the practice of politics and the struggles over democratic decision-making. ... At a moment of political upheaval, the key stories about what is happening on the ground is being told, and supplemented, by citizens on web 2.0 tools — blogs, Twitter, social networks, on sites like Global Voices.

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I am imagining the conversation within the intelligence and diplomatic communities, and elsewhere in politics, about the value of this discourse and open source intelligence in general in these moments of crisis. If ever it were in doubt, I’d imagine today is helping to put many doubts to rest about the importance of this networked public sphere.
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Esko Reinikainen offers sage advice:

Do NOT publicise proxy IP's over twitter. ... . Security forces are monitoring. ... If you are creating new proxies for the Iranian bloggers, DM them to @stopAhmadi or @iran09.

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The only two legitimate hashtags being used by bloggers in Iran are #iranelection and #gr88. ... Security forces are now setting up twitter accounts to spread disinformation by posing as Iranian protesters. ... Change your twitter settings so that your location is TEHRAN and your time zone is GMT +3.30. ... If we all become 'Iranians' it becomes much harder ... [for] security forces.
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Kara Swisher would like a box of chocolates:

Twitter is so simplistic and silly that it is a perfect digital tool to overthrow a government–which is kind of makes the trendy microblogging service the Forrest Gump of international relations. Stupid is as stupid does, of course, but what it does illustrate quite smartly is that word of mouth–a concept as old as humanity–remains the most powerful way of distributing information.

While not always reliable, masses of people chattering away has always been the most fluid way in which news has been disseminated and received. Although much of that can be mundane and borderline idiotic, one cannot deny its impact.
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So what's your take?

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Previously in IT Blogwatch:

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And finally...

Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and spam. A 24 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. You can follow him on Twitter or FriendFeed, pretend to be Richi's friend on Facebook, or just use boring old email.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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