Twitter + Iran = Herm


Published on

Slides for my presentation on Iran's "Twitter Revolution" in 2009. This was for my Politics and Economics of Global Media course in the Global Communication graduate program at the American University of Paris. Fall 2010.

Published in: News & Politics
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Twitter + Iran = Herm

  1. 1. Iran’s Twitter Revolution <ul><li>140 characters to freedom? </li></ul>
  2. 2. Research Questions <ul><li>Is Twitter a viable tool for organizing social movement around political dissent? </li></ul><ul><li>Is Twitter a means of effectively spreading democracy? </li></ul>
  3. 3. Rundown <ul><li>Twitter </li></ul><ul><li>Iran Election </li></ul><ul><li>The Green Movement </li></ul><ul><li>Analysis </li></ul><ul><li>Other case studies </li></ul><ul><li>What’s next? </li></ul>
  4. 4. A little bird told me... <ul><li>2006: Twitter founded by Evan Williams, Jack Dorsey and Biz Stone under Obvious Corp. </li></ul><ul><li>2007: Twitter, Inc. </li></ul><ul><li>Tweet, @, RT, DM, #, links </li></ul><ul><li>Access: Internet and Mobile </li></ul><ul><li>175m users, 95m tweets/day </li></ul><ul><li>fastest-growing free microblogging software </li></ul>
  5. 5. Iran Election <ul><li>June 12, 2009: Iran’s 10th presidential election </li></ul><ul><li>Three candidates, one incumbent </li></ul><ul><li>June 13: Islamic Republic News agency announces Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won with 62% of the two-thirds already-counted, Mir-Hossein Mousavi runner-up with 34% </li></ul><ul><li>Mousavi to Council of Guardians: Cancel the result </li></ul>Incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Reformist Mir-Hossein Mousavi (last Iran PM, 1981-89)
  6. 7. Video: Protests <ul><li>Video: </li></ul>
  7. 8. Cyber-protest <ul><li>YouTube: Neda Soltani shot by pro-government militia Basiji </li></ul><ul><li>Facebook: Pages with Info and videos on protestors that have died </li></ul><ul><li>Blogs: Commentary </li></ul><ul><li>Hackers allegedly took down Ahmadinejad’s website </li></ul>
  8. 9. Video: The Digital Citizen <ul><li> </li></ul>
  9. 10. Twitter’s #IranElection <ul><li>100,000 tweets/day, 8,000/hour </li></ul><ul><li>Trending topics: #IranElection, #CNNFail </li></ul><ul><li>International awareness of election, questions about legitimacy and protests </li></ul>
  10. 11. Response <ul><li>Phone & mobile lines shut down or slowed down </li></ul><ul><li>Restricted Internet access </li></ul><ul><li>Online protestors arrested for tweeting </li></ul><ul><li>State spreading falsified info, posing as pro-Mousaviists </li></ul><ul><li>Changing location to Tehran to “confuse” Iranian government </li></ul><ul><li>U.S. State Dept delayed scheduled Twitter maintenance to prevent disruption </li></ul><ul><li>Proxy servers set up, bypass censorship </li></ul>
  11. 12. What Really Happened? <ul><li>1,000 active Twitter accounts during protests </li></ul><ul><li>Citizen accounts provided organic perspective, but also inaccurate details (700,000 protestors vs. 7,000) </li></ul><ul><li>Engagement happened outside of Iran </li></ul>&quot;Twitter's impact inside Iran is zero. Here, there is lots of buzz, but once you look... you see most of it are Americans tweeting among themselves.” Mehdi Yahyanejad Manager of Farsi-language news site in LA
  12. 13. Rise of an Information Elite <ul><li>The downside of SSS: Twitter’s “Short, Sweet and Simple” framework made RT’s the best communication method </li></ul><ul><li>Algorithmic efficiency: RT’s = nodal, follow-based. Easy to reduce original sources to select few </li></ul>
  13. 14. Follower’s Folly <ul><li>Tweets users receive often reflect their own views </li></ul><ul><li>Users retweet tweets that reflect their own views </li></ul><ul><li>Result: Isolation of partisan information networks </li></ul>Real-time information clusters show emergence of tightly intwoven conservative Twittersphere and more isolated liberal and mainstream spheres
  14. 15. Who’s tweeting? <ul><li>Tweets in English rather than Farsi </li></ul><ul><li>Overrepresentation of middle-class urbanites </li></ul><ul><li>Accentuation of issues brought up during presidential race </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Reformist vs. Conservative </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Middle Class vs. Working Class </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Urban Sector vs. Rural Population </li></ul></ul>
  15. 16. Conclusion Iran’s Twitter Revolution was not “Iran’s.” Rather, it was a movement that mobilized diaspora Iranians and subsequently the Western world. Twitter has been used as a tool for sharing real-time information about political movement with the world, but it paints a narrow picture of what is actually happening. Ironically, while Twitter was thought by the Western world to be a tool for spreading democracy in Iran, it was used by the Iranian government as a tool to subvert dissent.
  16. 17. Other Case Studies <ul><li>Moldova: Protests following 2009 parliamentary elections included few and were more effectively carried out on Facebook and through text messaging </li></ul><ul><li>China: Cheng Jianping sentened to a year in labor camp for urging nationalist protestors to smash Japan’s paviliion at Shanghai Expo </li></ul>
  17. 18. Social Media Crackdown <ul><li>The growing panopticon: Governments struggling (but continuing) to control citizens’ expression of discontent </li></ul><ul><li>Another facet of ideological struggle: America’s liberal democracy vs. Everyone Else </li></ul><ul><li>The future of Twitter in politics: Will still be a forum for conversation, but holds limited prospects for political engagement </li></ul>