#Iran’s 2009 Election Remembered

A woman shows the ink on her finger after casting her ballot for the Iranian presidential election in Tehran June 12, 2009. (REUTERS/Caren Firouz)
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Collection of tweets

from 12 June 2009 – 22 Khordad 1388 on the Persian calendar – the date of Iran’s parliamentary election, which erupted in massive protests swiftly followed by a brutal crackdown with the loss of many lives and the arrest, torture and detention of thousands.

— weddady (@weddady) June 12, 2009

— TIME.com (@TIME) June 12, 2009

I’ve re-tweeted the following at the same time today as they were originally posted.

Actual link for Guardian article in Rachel Maddow tweet: http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/blog/2009/jun/12/iran-middleeast

BBC coverage of the protests over election results:

The rise of social media

International media correspondents were quickly expelled from Iran after protests erupted. Citizen media took over, and social media was transformed from an unpopular web wasteland where bored people could read about what – or who – other people were eating, to become the world’s biggest platform for real-time reporting of events. It’s also arguably the world’s biggest platform for propaganda, and a spam magnet sans pareil.

The geeks and nerdy college grads who created today’s most popular social media applications were only too happy to leverage the instant celebrity status bestowed by the media as a result of the massive increase in popularity that the Iran election generated: most if not all are millionaires now. The activists who fuelled that meteoric rise definitely get the raw end of the deal.  Governments all over the world, from the US to the UK, from China to Kuwait, seem to view social media as both an innovative tool to spy on their citizens, and a means to oppress them. These security-obsessed states show a disturbing willingness to prosecute users with extreme sentences, often on spurious evidence but with serious charges such as “endangering national security”. This is testament to the importance of social media in society today.

Meanwhile, application developers make changes that disrupt and inconvenience users without warning, and incidents of arbitrary censorship of user content are fairly commonplace. None of the apps were built with the concept of user security and privacy as paramount, and re-engineering efforts don’t seem to be a priority compared to, say, changing terms of service to increase marketing and monetisation opportunities. As we’ve watched Google’s departure from its “don’t be evil” tag-line with a mixture of alarm and resignation, sites like Twitter have similarly changed course from “it’s your content, you own it” to “it’s your content and although you can’t access it, we’re selling it.” (and will readily censor or surrender it in response to government requests). As an added challenge, there is the growing trend of user credentials being “leaked” and the accompanying rise in incidents of user accounts being “hacked”.

Related content

For fascinating first-hand observations and insight into what it’s like in Iran these days, I recommend Laura Secor’s excellent article in the New Yorker.

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