For reasons that one could argue have some parallels, the current revolution in Iran – if that’s indeed what it is – won’t be televised either. What’s changed is that there was no Internet in 1970, and no social media either. Not only are social networks ‘broadcasting’ the current uprising, they also have a prominent role in keeping it alive.
The tipping point came on June 15th. That’s when a U.S. State Dept. official asked Twitter to delay scheduled maintenance so Iranians could continue to exchange information about protests to each other and the outside world. The role of social media in Iran was also given about ten minutes of prime news time on PBS last night.
Now remember when, years back, people used to talk about the Internet as this fantastic invention that was going to allow… real freedom of information? There was a lot of hype tossed around about open accessibility, linking different cultures, and the ability to connect to a limitless library of constantly-updated information.
You don’t hear much about that kind of stuff anymore. But in this case, that’s precisely what’s happening. The web, or more specifically, social networks like Facebook and Twitter are being used to allow information to be shared that is censored by those in charge.
Freedom of the press has been replaced by freedom of the post. It may be a cliché, but there’s not doubt that this puts substantially more power in the hands of the people. And in this case, it’s right when the citizens of Iran need it most.
‘ The genie of free expression is out of the bottle and will unlikely be returned no matter who is eventually accepted as the victor.’ – Newsweek