The Internet and International Solidarity

The recent events in Iran, dubbed the Twitter Revolution by some, have been unprecedented in which the Internet has been used during such events. In a country where the theocratic regime blocked nearly all access to the press, baffling mainstream media outlets, social networks, Twitter in particular, have become the main sources of information. While CNN could barely figure out what was going on, users on news website Fark.com give up to the minute updates deduced from a handful of Iranian “tweeters” they have deemed reliable from the past days events. By the time the mainstream media caught on it was difficult to separate truth from lies by the Iranian government trying to undermine the service. By this time the Fark users knew who provided factual information.

Twitter allows users to give updates to their followers in 140 characters or less. The service, often called more a novelty than practical form of communication, has proved invaluable for organizing and giving the outside world a glimpse of what is going on in Iran. Tweets are mostly factual information. “News: Eyewitness confirmed arabic speaking riot polices "definitely NOT Irani-arabs"” says a post by StopAhmai. Others show hope and astonishment; “Thursday Sea of Green was more than ONE MILLION people,” posts another user. Sometimes the wear of the struggle comes out; “I'm sorry about being negative, we're are doing all we can and still we have zero progress & I'm feeling bad about it.” Some users request their user names are not revealed in fear of retaliation by the government. Due to the nature of the service the government would have to shut down the Internet to silence Twitter, as was done in Moldova a few months ago. With the use of proxy servers set up abroad, tech savvy Iranians are able to go around government filters.

The most amazing aspect of the service is not the information it brings but the people it connects. Even workers on the political right, that months ago would have agreed with a U.S. strike against Iran, stood with Iranians. Users on Fark shared concern, support and anger, deep emotions, with people they had never met nor even held a conversation with. Users would worry when a tweeter had gone hours without posting, discuss wearing green armbands to work, help each other with setting up proxy servers, and pass along any information they can to help the movement. For many, this broke their assumptions of Iran as a backwards country behind the times. Historically this is the first time such an event has been told from the strugglers' perspective. Maybe more importantly this is the first time the working class of the world has united in solidarity through such direct personal means.

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