And Iran, Iran So Far Away

by Web Intern

So, BUSTies, how obsessed are you with following the Iran Election story? There’s quite a bit of buzz going around our offices about it. After all, we do love a good protest around here. That’s not to diminish what’s going on, of course (and neither is my headline), but anything with this much civil disobedience and political upset is obviously compelling.

One thing that’s particularly interesting is all this talk about the activists’ use of Twitter to spread the word and gain support; so are the ways that non-Iranian tweeters are showing their support.

How exactly can you do that? Well, word is that the Iranian government has been trying to locate particularly vocal protesters through the site, so users all over the world are changing their locations to Tehran and their time stamps to GMT +3:30. The idea is that if enough people around the world say they are in Tehran it will be harder to track down the users that actually are.

Twitter users are also changing their avatars to green squares with supportive messages, plain green boxes or green-tinted versions of their previous pictures. The green is apparently meant to represent the tint you see wearing night-vision goggles.

Now, Twitter is technically banned in Iran, which makes the protesters’ use of it even more interesting. They have to go through encryption measures like Tor to be able to access the site. But some sources, like Business Week, are saying that this ”Twitter revolution” might be an exaggeration. The small number of people who actually use sites like that in Iran make the claim seem dubious; it’s more likely that most of the rallying happened the old-fashioned way: word of mouth.

Whatever the truth is, it seems that the use of social networking sites is at least helping spread the word of this situation around the world. Go to Twitter and check out the #IranElection hashtag for proof; see how fast it updates and how many tweets there are. It also helps circumvent the obstacle of the ban on foreign journalists at the protests – amateurs can upload photos and video to give the world a glimpse.

But it is important – so much so that the site delayed a scheduled update to keep the momentum going.

Of course, there’s much more to talk about here than just Twitter. The implications of this whole situation could be huge for Iran. But there’s way too much to get into in one blog post. I will say, though, that if you are in the dark about what’s going on (it’s OK, I was only paying mild attention until I got into BUST today), CNN has a pretty decent Iran 101 page up that has a lot of background information.

The latest news is that the protest that was scheduled to mourn those who died in other rallies has gone off without a hitch – no violence or problems; so far so good.

So I will re-issue my opening question: how obsessed are you with this story? And what are your thoughts on it? Discuss. -Liza

(photo via Flickr )

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