The Duck of Minerva

The not-so-twittered revolution

16 June 2009

Some comments from a friend of Iranian extraction, who kindly agreed to allow me to repost them here.

As someone who has family members primarily outside Tehran and who has been following the revolt via them, I can say that what drives everything, that intensifies protest, that prevents a calming down of anger is the very clamping down on all press that the conservatives immediately mobilised and which they thought would be effective in suppressing protests.

Rumour has been intensely spreading about everything that it actually results in people in provinces feel they need to do “something”. So before last night (7 people were killed), there were no dead protestors, but people in the provinces were hearing casualties of 14 people, resulting in escalating anger.

There have been all sorts of rumours: that Rezaii (the ultra-conservative candidate) had endorsed Ahmadinejad’s win (he hadn’t), that Moussavi was under house arrest (he wasn’t), that the plain-clothes men beating people were imported from an ominous sounding “Arabic-speaking country” (they weren’t) and on and on.

I think the rumour mill here has been central to the escalation of protest and someone MUST do some research on this.

Finally, a note about Twitter. Twitter and Facebook and blogs are primarily for the protestors to reach outside Iran, not in the country itself. Furthermore, internet speed has apparently slowed to a crawl and mobile phone networks (and SMS capability) has been severely circumscribed. So, I’d be cautious about accepting at face value the accounts celebrating this as a “blogged” or “twittered” revolution! [emphasis mine]