The Twitter Revolution: A Force Of Change In Iran

1358 words - 6 pages

The Iranian green movement was the political movement that arose in 2009 after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was elected. The Movements goal was to remove Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from office. According to The Washington Times and several other sources the election was rigged and “handed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad an improbably lopsided victory” (The Washington Post). Ahmadinejad won the election with 66% of the votes which seemed impossible. Mir Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi are political leaders of the green movement. The protests preceding the 2009 Iranian election were the biggest since the Iranian revolution in 1978. Throughout the green movement several protesters were arrested and many people were killed or beaten by riot police and governmental militia forces. I believe that social media provides a meaningful forum for real political change and can act as a useful tool that expresses political ideas and promotes change.

In Golnaz Esfandiari’s Article ‘The Twitter Devolution’ he explains that Twitter is “far from being a tool of revolution in Iran” (Esfandiari Golnaz, 2010). He believes Iranians have made real sacrifices in pursuit of justice rather than virtual ones (Esfandiari Golnaz, 2010). He states that Twitter publicists of the Iranian protests have played a role in Iran between the years 2009-2010, but not the “outsized role it's often been made out to be” (Esfandiari Golnaz, 2010). According to Mike Musgrove “It is hard to say how much twittering [was] actually going on inside Iran, the tweets circulated by expatriates in the United States tend to be in English [and] the Twitter interface does not support the use of Farsi” (Mike Musgrove, 2009). Mehdi Yahyanejad, manager of a Farsi-language news site in the States said that "Twitter's impact inside Iran is zero” (Mehdi Yahyanejad, 2009). Apparently only the tech savvy were able to tweet about what was going on in Iran during the green movement. There are English speaking individuals in Iran, and people know how to use translators, so the fact that Twitter interface does not support the use of Farsi does not eliminate the use of Twitter by citizens at the protests in Tehran. The Twitter interface restriction only applies to twitter as well. There was nothing stopping Iranian protesters from posting videos on sites like Flickr and YouTube (Mike Musgrove 2009). Even though the site Twitter apparently does not support the commonly used Iranian language, social media was still an important factor in the green movement and can be seen through these statistics. “At the height of the protest activities, according to Ben Parr, more than 221,000 Iran tweets were sent in one hour. In one day, 3,000 Iranian videos were uploaded on YouTube, and 2.2 million blog entries were posted.” (Pfeifle Mark, 2009).

One of social media’s flaws is the fact that it can spread rumors fast, but false information is also periodically reported in televised news reports and in printed newspapers. Golnaz Esfandiari...

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