Social media buzzing after the Iran elections

Updated June 20 2009

Iran election violence

Something is brewing in Iran. And the people are reporting.

Thousands of angry protesters have clashed with police in several cities in Iran after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was declared the winner of Iran's presidential poll. He claims victory over his rival Mir Hossein Mousavi, who called the results a "charade". (Full)

As violence broke out, the mobile phone network was switched off for hours and Internet connectivity was either interrupted or slow at least. Still, in what seems to become a school example of crowdsourced reporting at its best, individuals got their messages out through different social media channels.

Twitter is abuzz with on-the-ground reports directly from Iran by @madyar, @mohamadreza and @IranRiggedElect to name a few. Many of the tweets contain direct updates, local news, eyewitness reports, and pictures directly posted on Twitpic way before the mainstream media picked up. (The up to date list of all Twitterers in Iran, you find in this post)
New "special occasion" Twitter accounts like @Change_for_Iran got 4,000 followers in the first 12 hours.

Even foreign correspondents like @thomas_erdbrink (deleted his account), ABC correspondents Jim Sciutto and @LaraABCNews resort to Twitter when they can not get their official messages out, and to assemble information.

tweets from Iran

Tweets about the elections are tagged "#iranelection" so they can easily be searched and followed. #iranelection quickly shot to the most popular tag on Twitter.

The blogosphere is on a high run too. Iran News, Teheran bureau and Revolutionary Road are some examples of the bloggers active from different places in Iran, giving "liveblogging" a whole new meaning.

Other Iranian bloggers seem to be as active on the streets as in the Blogosphere. IranElections even features a picture of the imprints of police battons on his back and arms. Tehran Live posts excellent pictures.

Online blog coverage is available via blog giants Huffington Post and The Daily Dish. Global Voices does an excellent job in translating Tweets and blogs covering the post-elections'turmoil from Farsi to English, while expat Iranian bloggers are using their in-country connections to keep up. - check out NiacINsight.

There is a flood of pictures coming in on Flickr (look at Iran Streets After Elections) and plenty of videos taken from mobile phones posted on YouTube.

Facebook has been trying to keep up, even though access to the most popular social media resource was said to be blocked in Iran after the elections. There is the opposition leader Mousavi's Facebook page, with comments mostly in Farsi and page of the student movement. For English exchanges, check Where is my vote?

Meanwhile, social bookmarking sites start what they do best: spreading the links to the actual news resources. This thread on Reddit even contains tips on how to access Facebook from inside Iran, bypassing the government firewall.

As we get into the second day of protests, aggregators like Twazzup present an overview of the incoming flow of crowdsourced information. Check this out: Twazzup's Iran page. (Tnx for the tip, Uli!)

While foreign reporters and camera crews have their equipment confiscated, it looks like the authorities are trying to take a grip on the country again.

I wonder with the proliferation of social media if crowdsourced reporting will be or can be muffled. Short of disconnecting Iran from the international telephone network and pulling the plug on the Internet completely, it seems there is no stopping.

As the Daily Dish puts it in The Revolution will be Twittered:

That a new information technology could be improvised for this purpose so swiftly is a sign of the times. It reveals in Iran what the Obama campaign revealed in the United States. You cannot stop people any longer. You cannot control them any longer. They can bypass your established media; they can broadcast to one another; they can organize as never before.

Picture courtesy Revolutionary Road


timethief 28 June, 2009 03:36  

I am deeply saddened by the events in Iran and encouraged to know that you are also on board in the Blogger's Unite for a Free Iran campaign. Any government that kills its own citizens while they peacefully protest is evil and I sincerely hope that those who ordered the deaths will come to their senses and stop the oppression. I feel confident that democracy will prevail in Iran one day and until that day I stand with the protesters. All citizens of every nation in this world should have the freedom to peacefully provide their feedback to those who rule over them.

irtiza 29 June, 2009 06:24  

The events happening in Iran is really sad. I really hope that Iran's people get back there freedom of speech and democracy.

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