It’s hard to know for sure just quite what roles it playing, how accurate it is or what impact it will have, but the literally thousands of Twitter posts pouring forth in the aftermath of the Iran election is quite extraordinary to watch.
When I first signed on to Twitter over a year ago, I really couldn’t see what possible value it had. A year later, after finally rediscovering the password to my account, I re-engaged and have since find it quite useful at times (and occasionally also disconcerting at the sort of personal information some people readily put out there).
But the flurry of brief updates and links to information / pictures / videos about what might be happening in parts of Iran right now really takes it to another level. It is less detail rich, but far more immediate and easy to disseminate than sites like Facebook, and makes the standard blog seem incredibly ponderous and slow (although Twits which links to valuable blog posts can also be important).
The situation in Iran at present is not something which happens every day (thankfully), but it does show the ever-evolving benefits of social media in giving unvarnished voice to the here and now.
Searching for #iranelection on Twitter will deliver an extraordinary pile of continually updating tweets – hundresd of new ones every ten minutes or so. Sure, a lot of them are non-Iranian people re-tweeting messages and generally trying to feel like they are part of the action. Add in the messages which the Iranian regime is now trying to add in as an effort to smokescreen or derail what’s happening, and perhaps it’s not quite as big as it seems.
But there’s no doubt Twitter is providing a key and very immediate mechanism to get information and voices out that would otherwise never be heard. Quite what effect it will all have for Iranians remains to be seen, but anything which helps circumvent censorship and large-scale misinformation should be welcomed.
If you’re on Twitter, follow @Change_for_Iran and look at some of the updates. It’s impossible to be 100% sure of the veracity of some of the updates, but the same can be said for most immediate on-the-ground reporting.