If you are anywhere near a TV showing BBC World – we’re on at 16.30 BST
The true and undisputed winners of the Iranian elections have emerged – Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and You Tube have been bathing in the limelight. Here’s the BBC’s breakdown on social media in Iran. The Iranian government’s blocking of traditional media outlets has meant that microblogging has been our main source of information.
Microblogging of course cannot always be verified. So, have the events in Iran just been exaggerated or has our access to social media been a valuable insight to what’s really happening on the ground?
“I think the idea of a Twitter revolution is very suspect,” says Gaurav Mishra from 20:20 Webtech. “The amount of people who use these tools in Iran is very small and could not support protests that size.”
But with increased restrictions on reporting inside Iran should we not just accept that social media is our best bet of getting continuing coverage on the events right now? We at WHYS have struggled to get voices out of Iran, and any we have managed to get on air have been thanks to the internet. Here’s a more detailed interview with Gaurav on Iran and Twitter. Worth a read.
Despite concerns, we’ve relied on online citizen journalism to be our primary source of information.I had an email exchange with an Iranian yesterday who wrote “you may think you are just doing your job, but you are helping to change the lives of Iranians.” There’s no doubt that many are clinging onto the internet as a lifeline and conveniently, you can’t pull the plug on the net either. But do we even know who these citizen journalists are? One thing’s for sure – they’re young, they’re tech savvy and more likely than not – pro Mousavi and middle class. We don’t even know if they are voices from inside the country.
Ken Ballen and Patrick Doherty write “Much commentary has portrayed Iranian youth and the Internet as harbingers of change in this election. But our poll found that only a third of Iranians even have access to the Internet, while 18-to-24-year-olds comprised the strongest voting bloc for Ahmadinejad of all age groups.”
And on the other side , the Iranian authorities jammed BBC services (and other foreign broadcasters), stopped text messages and net access in the days after the result came out, and currently reporters there – again including ours – are working under restrictions.
So it’s not as if it’s just one side trying to “control the message”.
So is it hard to get to the truth in Iran ?