Iran and social media: a case study on the role of social networking tools

23 06 2009

Unless you’ve been living under a rock recently, you know that young and old (mostly young) Iranians have been on the streets of Tehran over the recent dispute over President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad‘s “landslide” victory in Iran‘s presidential election.

Photo Credit: Ben Curtis, Associated Press

Photo Credit: Ben Curtis, Associated Press

Since this post, at least a dozen deaths have been reported since the peaceful-protest-gone-violent started. This has been the biggest protest since Iran’s similar revolution in 1979 and has been one for the history books.

It seems like all the world is watching – many protesting in their own neighborhoods for Iranian’s democracy. But what makes this particular event in time even more intriguing is the pivotal role social media sites have served.

The vast majority of the videos and reports shown in news outlets have been made available not by professional journalists but by the people of Iran.

Because of the Iranian government‘s barring and outright censorship of news media to cover the riots in Tehran, Americans and others in much of the world are allowed on-the-streets access of what’s going on inside Iran’s political upheaval thanks to social media.

More cases than not, news outlets have been using social media sites like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter to report the news on the protests. Social media tools like these – which traditionally have not been considered reputable sources – are now on the forefront for coverage on the Iranian elections and protests.

Citizen journalists in Iran are shooting their own video, writing their own headlines, and reporting their story – all with readily available technology. Although that is not to say the Iranian government having been reported to use the very same tools for their purposes.

As the protests continue, social media and citizen journalism will undoubtedly playing an important role in news coverage.

Not only have social media shaped how the events in Iran are covered, but the events in Iran are also shaping the role of social media in journalism.



2 responses

9 02 2010
How our digital society is changing storytelling « Digital Journalist

[…] stories like the Virginia Tech shooting, the 2009 Iranian election riots and the recent earthquake-ravaged Haiti all have been covered in some large part due to social […]

23 06 2009
Splendid Blog Roundup: 24/06/09 |

[…] Iran and social media: A case study […]

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