A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Monday, June 15, 2009

Tweeting the Revolution?

UPDATED: #iranelection is waging a campaign to dissuade Twitter from a scheduled maintenance downtime at 9:45 PM Pacific. Twitter says it has no control over the maintenance. 404 Error: Your revolution is postponed: server is down.

Seriously, Twitter: whatever one may think of the election results, whichever side one may prefer in the debate, when a regime is closing off all communications channels, the one that is still functioning should not be shut down.
Regardless of the pros and cons of who won this election, as an Editor and Publisher I feel I need to speak in defense of open communications. [Later: The protests worked. The host agreed not to have the maintenance downtime tonight.] The original post from this afternoon follows:

One of the things everyone seems to be remarking upon is the degree to which Twitter has become the communications medium of the demonstrations in Tehran. With social networking sites blocked and many other websites down by government attacks, Twitter seems to be the dominant way of spreading news. (#iranelection gets you a range of English language posts.)

Various reports and commentary on this phenomenon here, here, and a BBC roundup of various means of communication. And (via Gary Sick) one at the Christian Science Monitor. Or just go to Twitterfall.com, click on #iranelection, and watch it come in.

The downside, of course, is that the medium makes it easier to spread unfounded rumors as well as the truth. Anyone can start a rumor, or spread one. But what audiotapes were to Khomeini's revolution in 1979, Twitter may be to whatever this turns out to be.

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