Twitter gets serious

The number 1 trending topic on Twitter right now is #iranelection.

twitter avatars in support of Iran
twitter avatars go green in support of Iran

Twitter has become so important that they’ve rescheduled their planned maintenance from a time that would suit America, but be in the middle of Tuesday morning Iran time, to a time that is the middle of the night in Iran, but within business hours in West Coast US. According to one commentator the reschedule was at the request of the US government.

With international news coverage from Iran limited, few diplomatic ties and other social media sites banned twitter has become a lifeline for news from Iran. Tips for following the aftermath of the Iran Elections have already been published.

The links supplied via Twitter go to a phenomenal number of different reports/blogs/images and video clips, there are links to Amnesty International, and mention of a denial of service attack on websites of the Iranian government.

As a show of support many tweeters are adding a touch of green to their avatar, either a green wash or specific green avatars. First seen on Monday, I think the first I noticed was Jason Pollock.

There are a lot of retweets so there is significant noise in the feed, but it’s clearly a flood of information. What the impact will be remains to be seen.

There have been 2382 tweets using the hashtag “iranelection” since I started writing this post.

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POSTSCRIPT
Two days later and #iranelection is still the top trending topic on twitter. Here are some other articles/resources from around the web, mostly on the impact Twitter/social media has had.

G20 Protests

Now that the dust has settled on the G20 discussions and the protests maybe it’s time to understand what really went on.

I heard an interview on BBC World radio discussing the reporting on the events last week. In the journalist’s view (and sorry I didn’t catch his name) the violence had been almost a self-fulfilling prophecy and was largely generated by the police and the media. The police announcement that they “expected violence” signalled to more moderate protesters that they should stay away. Even so, there were many protesters there protesting on an issue basis – at the loss of their pension funds, at the loss of jobs, at the lack of effective regulation or at banker’s bonuses. There was a small group of extreme and violent protesters who led the charge into the RBS building.

The best online report I can find of the events comes from Al Jazeera – English.

It’s interesting, according to Hamish MacDonald the protesters were asking to leave the area when the police charged. The police were targetting a small group of protesters but it’s pretty hard to target a small group in a surging crowd.

But focus on the filmclip between 1.30 and 1.50, there’s an interesting ratio of protester:police:photographer

The police are holding their line against the protesters. But behind the protesters are banks of photographers. The ratio here seems to be 1:1:2
Here the protesters have broken into the RBS building, it’s a symbolic break-in – RBS has come to symbolise the worst wrongs of the crisis. But look, there are half a dozen protesters entering the building, no police visible, and many cameras. The ratio is 1:0:1

Two tenets of democracy are the right to protest and the right of free press. It looks as though those are both healthy in the UK.

One further tenet is linked to freedom of arrest or harassment by police. That’s looking a little doubtful. I wasn’t there – but seeing and reading first hand accounts it seems the police did the policing equivalent of opening a walnut with a sledgehammer.