Don't believe the hype (about the role of social media in Iran protests)

“Iranian reformist candidates Mir Hussein Mousavi and Mehdi Karoub and their supporters have few communications options. They have no access to national TV, radio, or newspapers, which are under state control. Text messaging is being blocked and web sites are filtered. How are they able to organize a huge protest movement?

While the mainstream media has focused on the role of Twitter and decentralized organizing, the real picture of digital activism in Iran is more complex. Protests are organized centrally by the campaigns of reformist candidates and then that information is disseminated both online and off. The role of citizens with regard to social media is as citizen journalists, using YouTube and Twitter to report on what is happening, rather than to organize the protests. Since this activity is intended for an international audience (and is in English) it is no wonder that this use of social media is more visible to a Western audience than the online tactics actually being used to organize the protests.”

Digital Activism in Iran: Beyond the Headlines
By Hamid Tehrani, June 20, 2009
(read the rest of this article on Digiactive: a world of digital activists)