The Social Media Community Supports The Revolution

Photo Courtesy of "SIR: Poseyal Knight of the DESPOSYNI's on Flickr
Photo Courtesy of "SIR: Poseyal Knight of the DESPOSYNI's on Flickr

Readers of this blog have probably noticed the lack of political or religious content regardless of what is happening in the world. I try to avoid topics like these because they are extremely polarizing. Most of the time, people on both sides of the argument have valid points, and there is no clear answer. For the most part, I avoided politics during the US presidential election, but today I wanted to post about the Iran election. Almost everyone has been talking about this topic, and many people have mentioned how this has been a major turning point for Twitter. Those people are wrong.

Valeria Maltoni has an excellent post on this topic as well. She does mention that she believes new media has led the way as well.

The Economist says the real winner was an unusual hybrid of old and new media. I beg to differ because new media clearly led the way this time. It was clearly in the lead from the beginning and remained that way for its ability to not just inform (ok, in some cases misinform), but to touch such a diverse audience, to reach out from the screens to the hearts of the people – because everyone was participating in the news, not just watching from afar.

She is somewhat wrong as well, but more because she did not take this far enough even though she mentions the real winner.

The social media community is the real winner. Yes, I mean me, you and all of those people using sites like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. Why are we all the winner? Twitter is the tool that people used to promote news about the election. Did Twitter make this happen? No, Iranians used their cell phones to connect to Twitter and post updates. Did the cell phone companies make this happen? There is a better argument for them, but they have been very silent during much of these events.

The difference here is the people. People connected on Facebook, and notices have been posted on Mir Hossein Moussavi’s Facebook page. If you look at some “old media”, you will notice an interesting contrast. On twitter, people have been posting links to articles and videos. On a site like CNN, even when the story talks about Moussavi’s Facebook page, there are no links to the page in the article.

When websites have been blocked in Iran, people setup proxy servers so that the content was still available. Were these people all Iranian? I highly doubt that. This has been an effort by the people on various sites. Each of these sites was just a tool that was used. People have found ways around publicly posting information, sometimes spreading proxy addresses through Twitter DMs and Facebook messages.

The community continues to power the spreading of information, and that is what is important.

Photo Information: I highly recommend you look at the photos on Flickr where the one above came from. Some very moving images.

8 thoughts on “The Social Media Community Supports The Revolution

  1. Normally I’m a little pessimistic about the power of social media, but I don’t think it’s to hyperbolic to say that without the Internet and social media, Iran’s chances of a fair election are not as good. It breaks my heart to see a country struggle with the problems that they face, so my thoughts and prayers go out to them.


  2. Julie

    That is basically the way I feel, and the main reason I wrote this. It is amazing how much social media and the community have helped in this situation.


  3. Sorry do not want to be rude, but they are repeating the same example about iran all over the net, nainly social media and blogs. Yes it is intresting how they interact with new technologies, but It has always been like that. New communication tech heps people in catasrophes, and that ends up being its more valuable part. Same happen with cell phones there used mostly as security device, while driving, nightime, or getting lost in a strange place, it can save you from trouble, which was the great help.


  4. Mariana

    I agree that most communication technologies do end up being touted as important during catastrophes. However, social media has typically been seen as a toy of early adopters, and even social networks have been questioned. This was really the “turning point” for social media, where many people finally saw that it could be used in important ways.

    The problem could be that people are making a huge deal out of it, while it really should be seen as the next step.

    And I did not think you were rude at all 🙂


  5. Rob, good read my friend. However, you mentioned Valeria didn’t take it far enough… did you, I wonder?

    If you are impressed with the community driving the spread of information, what use is information with application, without decision, without action?

    How many times have we heard something from a friend, watched something on a news channel, or seen something on our computer and been outraged – but done nothing?

    I’m guilty… I cast no stones here. My only concern with social media is whether we are being socially responsible.

    Warmest Regards,


  6. Ken

    Social responsibility is a much bigger concern, and definitely a huge topic. I am not going to write about it however because it is too close to the religion/politics line 🙂

    However, with Iran we have seen a surprising amount of community support, so maybe social media is helping the social responsibility too. Hopefully someone looks at this idea at some point.


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