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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Twitter, Timezones and Terror in Iran

There are people all over the planet following the events in Iran on Twitter using #iranelection and #gr88 hashtags as a search tool. The pictures and video the Iranian Twitterers are able to get out of the country is truly amazing - especially under the dangerous circumstances they are in. The current theocracy is trying to shut down all media and communications out of Iran by blocking the Internet and bloggers plus the usual expulsion of the international media.

There are reports that media and bloggers are being arrested by Iranian military and a number of people have been killed in the streets by the military crackdown too. The next steps, taken last night, was for the military to mark the doors of the Tehran homes of suspected supporters of the rebellion. The Twitterverse was full of information about this targeting and distributed instructions on how to remove the door markings. Realizing how difficult it was to remove the door markings the follow up tweets was suggesting that ALL residential doors in the city. Don't know what the final result was but this is an example of how command and control centralized governments are being neutered by the dynamics of horizontal decentralized networks of engaged citizens.

Iran has an enormous and active blogging community, with Farsi being the 4th ranked language in the blogosphere. Not really surprising when you realize that 50% of the population of Iran is 30 years old or younger. Tough to imagine how arresting some bloggers will stop the rest. It will most likely embolden the rest to find ways to get the stories of the military crackdown and brutality out of Iran.

Twitter is still working well at getting the word out and informing the world about what is going on in the streets of Iran. It is also being used by Iranian officials posting tweets as a countervailing force using misinformation tweets. There are reports that the Iranian "government" is now targeting citizens who are on Twitter as part of the crackdown and retaliation against the dissidents and demonstrators. The Iranian "government" is using the timezone portion of the Twitter profiles of members to find these people who are using Twitter to thwart the communications clampdown the authorities are trying to impose.

The Twitterverse response to this targeting of Iranian dissidents is to ask the millions of the rest of us Twitter-types t0 change our profiles to the Tehran timezone so it will be more difficult to find the true Iranian Twitterers. I change my profile 10 minutes ago and encourage every one else on Twitter to do the same.