Their activity has increased, not decreased, during attempts by the Iranian government to restrict or censor their online communications. On Twitter, reports and links to photos from a peaceful mass march through Tehran, along with accounts of street fighting and casualties around the country, rapidly became the most popular topic on the service worldwide.
A couple of Twitter feeds have become virtual media offices for the supporters of the leading opposition candidate, Mir Hussein Moussavi. Mr. Moussavi’s fan group on Facebook has swelled to over 50,000 members.
Many Twitter users have been sharing ways to evade government snooping, such as programming their Web browsers to contact a proxy.
“Twitter” is on everyone’s lips these days. Especially once conventional media outlets realized people were Tweeting about current events in increasingly hard-to-reach areas like Iran during the aftermath of its controversial elections.
I have known of Twitter since it was first launched but never felt it was personally useful. However, until very recently I had no idea of the profound social implications it could have, and the odds are that you are likely also unaware of this, hence why I am writing this article.
The recent elections in Iran have provided a powerful illustration of just how potent a force social networking sites, like Twitter, have become. As international news organizations were banned from covering the ensuing demonstrations, some are now heralding Twitter as Iranian protesters’ lifeline to the outside world.
Using Twitter to Combat Oppression and Censorship
On June 12, Iran's hard-line religious regime declared President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the clear winner with 63 percent of the vote, just two hours after the voting closed. Suspecting foul play, the opposition, mostly supporters of Mir Hussein Mousavi, took to the streets of Tehran. Their protests were met with brutal crackdowns by police and militia.
And while Iran’s state radio broadcast statements like: "Despite wide coverage of unrest, foreign media have not been able to provide any evidence on a single violation in the election process," Iranian Twitter users provided a different perspective.
According to some accounts, Iran’s leaders began combating the opposition on Election Day by shutting down text-messaging services. Opposition supporters took that as a clear attempt to quench one of their most important organizing tools. Over the weekend following the elections, cell phone transmissions were also blocked according to some reports, as well as web access to certain sites like Facebook.
In one Fox News interview, a 27-year-old Iranian woman claimed the Iranian government was cracking down on several forms of communication, stating:
"The government is taking satellite dishes down from peoples’ homes. They’re everywhere.”
But where there’s a will, there's a way, and access to the internet is turning out to be one of the most effective ways to get around Big Brother.
In a recent BusinessWeek article, Reva Bhalla, director of analysis for Stratfor, a strategic intelligence and forecasting company in Austin, Texas, stated:
"Governments like Iran, Syria, and Egypt are really struggling with how to continue limiting information. No matter how hard these governments try to block communication, now there is always going to be a hole.
This really is a case study in how technology can affect closed societies."
According to Iran experts, Mousavi began using high-tech social-networking tools last month to get his messages across, because he wasn’t allowed to access state-run television and newspapers like President Ahmadinejad.
Twitter turns out to be especially beneficial for people trying to get out from under strict censorship as its posts can originate in numerous ways. You can post from your phone, a web browser, or various specialized applications, and the posts can be accessed in as many different ways.
Censoring Tweets essentially turns into a frustrating game of whack-a-mole, and about as effective and efficient in preventing subversive material.
What Does This Have to Do With Your Health?
You may be asking yourself why I bother including this type of political news. The answer is: it’s a phenomenal example of how the media has radically transformed in the last few years. No longer are we “imprisoned” in our insular caves and dependent on the major networks and newspapers for our news.
People like you, your friends and relatives are actually using these new social networking tools like Twitter and Facebook to bypass these outlets and the TRUTH IS GETTING OUT! It is very clear in my mind that social networking is going to rapidly accelerate the changes that need to occur in our health care system.
Mercola.com and YOU Can Make a Difference
Another recent demonstrationof the power of the internet happened a little over a month ago, when several well-respected leaders in the alternative health field “outed” the fear-mongering tactics used to create a panic over swine flu.
And I sincerely believe this newsletter had a hand in dousing the fire that conventional media was stoking.
My first swine flu alert was the most popular article I’ve ever published; it even set new records for bandwidth at the data center (one of the largest in the country) that hosts this site, and was the 7th most viewed article on the entire Internet on April 29th.
Thus far, it has received well over one million views, and has been reposted on countless other sites across the web and was an unquestionable major factor at squashing the unfounded fear mongering that the media was presenting.
What You Can Do NOW
This is the perfect opportunity for you to leverage your vote and your power by tying yourself and your friends and family into these social networks.
You can alsosign up for our new social network on Mercola.com, which will allow you all these benefits:
- Full Access To The Natural Health Community And Forums: Most people blindly trust the status quo with their disease because they don’t know any other way to get the information they need. But now you can simply ask the Mercola.com community a question and...
- Uncover answers to your health problems: there may be somebody who has been where you are and overcame it who can give you a direct and immediate answer to your questions, saving you precious time in solving your health problems.
- Avoid making expensive mistakes: before committing to surgery or drugs, why not ask the group and get a few other viewpoints on the situation. There are hundreds of health care professionals on the network (who have a special icon on their profile) who may be able to point you in the right direction.
- Get support for your specific health challenges: you can even form your own group and discuss issues that are important to you, providing everyone involved with a strong level of support and assistance.
- Share and exchange health knowledge: perhaps open up about your own healing experiences with those suffering from circumstances similar to yours. It always feels good to make a real difference in somebody else’s life.
- Transfer your health insights to others and find a channel for your energy and giving.
The goal is to quickly reach the tipping point where we change the consciousness of the culture regarding the fatally flawed current system that is literally prematurely killing hundreds of thousands of people every year in the US alone.
You got a taste of what is possible by combining this site with your actions to combat the hokey swine flu threat, but that will pale in comparison to the new capabilities that this site will have in the near future.
The bottom line is that collectively, with the help of high-tech means, you CAN definitely change the world for the better!
So please complete your profile now!