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Twitter in Iran: Earth-shaking Or Just More Hype?

Submitted by Leo Klein on Sun, 6/21/09 (9:24pm)

twitter_logo.png I have no idea what role Twitter is playing in Iran. On the one hand, Clay Shirky and the U.S. State Department apparently think it's having a huge role.

On the other hand, a reader quoted by Nico Pitney of the HuffingtonPost says it's 1979 all over again:

"Also - what is happening now with regards to spreading information to the people. They are going back to 79 strategies. basically they are printing papers having people distribute them all over the country. twitter/net etc is not effective right now - they are going back to old-fashioned style. [Sun., 6/21/2009: 12:57 PM ET]"

Then there's this exchange between On the Media host Bob Garfield and a Professor from UC San Diego currently residing in Teheran:

Bob Garfield [3:55]: "Twitter has been at the center of the conversation [sic]. It's unclear how much of a role Twitter has played. But we have seen a lot of press reports of Iranians using Twitter to give a kind of blow-by-blow description -- but more especially those in the Diaspora keeping others apprised of events."

Professor: "Twitter is a recent thing in Iranian society especially among the youngsters. My hunch is that, the Diaspora community has kind of exaggerated the effect of Twitter. Definitely there are some Iranians using Twitter in order to connect with other Iranians outside of Iran. But at this moment, I could assure you, Twitter is not the main kind of new form of communication ... which Iranians are using."

The professor seemed to think that satellite tv with its feeds from the BBC and CNN was having a greater effect.