Tuesday, June 23

Going Green: Free Iran


While most people have heard that social media has played a role in the post-election results in Iran, the consequences of immediate communication and online conversation have an impact that is equally compelling to on-the-ground coverage.

While Valeria Maltoni sees the potential for crowdsourcing to surpass CNN news (it can), we also see it as an interesting division. Whereas traditional media has been tending to cover the sentiment of the elected, social media tends to reveal the sentiment of those who elect. And that is making the elected take notice.

Mass Influence Over Influencers

Even in the United States, President Obama has been compelled to step up his stance on Iran. Originally, he hoped to avoid commenting about the democratic process of Iran over concern for future diplomacy with a country known to be developing a nuclear program and backing militant organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah. However, his initial hands-off stance had been largely viewed as timid and unrepresentative.

Yesterday, that changed. President Obama, who now says he was moved by the protest images, has called for an end to the violence while advising those who govern that they ought to lead by consent over coercion.

It's equally likely he wasn't moved on his own. Overwhelmingly, Americans have helped make the Iranian elections two of the top ten stories on the Internet — the election itself and the State Department asking Twitter to hold off on scheduled maintenance in order to ensure real-time citizen reporting.

News that used to die in a day isn't so easily forgotten. People all over the world want resolution.

BloggersUnite Hosts Spontaneous Event

BloggersUnite.org, which is a nonprofit platform that encourages bloggers to do good and raise social awareness, has launched an initiative that asks bloggers and network participants to use their blogs and accounts to do exactly that. They are asking bloggers and network members to continue their efforts, drawing even more awareness to the Iranian election and related atrocities in Iran through June 29.

“When we host organized campaigns, they are usually 90 days in the making,” said Antony Berkman, president of BlogCatalog.com and founder of BloggersUnite.org. “This time, the crisis is now, the need for action is now, the initiative is now.”

The event has already received praise by Amnesty International USA, which has its own action page condemning the violence and repression over the elections. Amnesty International says it is important for people to keep Iran in the public spotlight until it ends restrictions on freedom of expression and association, which includes the freedom to receive and impart information and ideas.

Bloggers and members of the media are asked to contribute to the Bloggers Unite for a Free Iran campaign by making it a dominant social media issue once again on June 29. Others are asked to participate by leaving supportive comments on participating blogs, sharing links to posts about this important effort, and/or by turning all avatars green in honor of the campaign. Bloggers who have already posted on the subject are asked to add their links to the BloggersUnite.org event page and post again on June 29.

4 comments:

Kevin Goodman on 6/24/09, 8:52 AM said...

I’ve been weighing this issue – Will Iranians really benefit from a show of western support?

Rich on 6/24/09, 10:58 AM said...

Kevin,

The question to ask is what does a show of western support communicate vs. ignoring the issue.

Are the citizens alone? Or does the world (because its much more than western support) stand behind them?

Does the world care about human rights? Or will it place the potential for diplomacy with dictators, regardless of any infractions?

From my perspective, when citizens reach out to other citizens, regardless of what elected leadership might do, it creates goodwill.

Best,
Rich

Chief Rabbit on 6/24/09, 1:01 PM said...

Now that other oppressive regimes have witnessed the power of social media and how cell phones can instantly convey those messages, I wonder what steps they will take to:
1) use these same tools for their own disinformation efforts
2) use the technology to track down dissidents
3) enhance spy, filter and other suppressive technologies to squash the free (or as free as possible) exchange of information, access to the Web, and, again, track down groups and individuals who oppose or have different views than those of the regime.

We need to do everything we can to keep the Web and social media available.

Nice post!

Rich on 6/26/09, 5:58 AM said...

Thank you Bonnie.

Good questions too. On a guess, I might say...

1. They will absolutely start using the same tools for disinformation and propaganda
2. They absolutely will use technology to track down dissidents
3. And they might take actions to suppress the free flow of information on the Web, which is increasingly difficult (but only for those who hope to have a presence on the world stage as Iran seems to do).

Always great to see you. :)

Best,
Rich

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