Iran Election Guide

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Entries in Facebook (31)


The Real Net Effect: Social Media and the Changing Middle East (Murphy)

Dedicated users of social media are a small vanguard in the Arab world, where access to the Internet and digital literacy levels are still low. But the number of people flocking to social media in the region is rising rapidly. This trend accelerated in the first quarter of this year, most notably in countries where protests occurred, according to the ASMR.

Facebook is the most popular social networking tool in Arab countries, with 27,711,503 users as of April 2011. That is almost double the 14,791,972 on Facebook in April 2010, the ASMR found. In the first four months of 2011, Facebook users in the Arab world grew by 30 percent, with Egypt accounting for most newcomers in this time period (2 million). Egypt’s 6.5 million Facebook users comprise about a quarter of all users in the region.

As for Twitter, the ASMR estimates there are about 6.5 million users in the Arab world, of whom 1.5 million are frequent tweeters. The countries with the most users and tweets are United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. In Saudi Arabia, tweets went up 400 percent in one year (the average increase in the same time period in the rest of the world was 90 per cent).

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Syria Special: Syria’s Sons of No One (Shadid)

Abdullah (left) and Ahmed in a safe house in Homs, Syria.Abdullah, a 26-year-old computer engineer and pious Muslim, is a wanted man. He joined the first protest in Homs in March, and since then he has emerged as one of the dozen or so leaders of the youth resistance. His savvy with technology has made him a target for the police, and this was the fifth place he had slept in in less than a week. He hadn’t been to his family’s home in two months. Around his neck he wore a tiny toy penguin that was actually a thumb drive, which he treated like a talisman, occasionally squeezing it to make sure it was still there. I sat next to him on the mattress and watched as he traded messages with other activists on Skype, then updated a Facebook page that serves as an underground newspaper, then marked a Google Earth map of Homs with the spots of the latest unrest. “If there’s no Internet,” Abdullah said, “there’s no life.”

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Belarus Update: Getting to the Truth on Repression and Social Media (Belarus Digest)

Western media often spread myths about the extent of Internet censorship in Belarus.  Many have the impression that all or many social media sites have been shut down or blocked by Belarusian KGB. The truth is that unlike television or FM radio, Internet access remains largely unrestricted in Belarus. 

Because only a small fraction of Belarusians use Internet to get political information, authorities are rather relaxed about Internet censorship. They usually intervene to temporarily block certain Internet web sites around the dates of scheduled protests. In addition, they effectively use traditional methods against pro-democracy activists such as arrests and pressure on protestors' universities and employers.

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The Real Net Effect: Top 10 Lessons from the Internet and the "Arab Spring" (Salatan) 

I thought Arab bloggers began with grievances and turned to the Internet to address them. But sometimes, apparently, it's the other way around. Al Omran said he started blogging just to practice his English. Once online, he met bloggers outside Saudi Arabia, learned about politics, and developed an interest in human rights. He said the same thing has happened to other bloggers in the region. Merlyna Lim, a scholar of social transformation at Arizona State University, described a similar dynamic in Egypt: Young people went online to keep up with their friends and youth culture. In doing so, they became politicized.

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The Real Net Effect: An Interview with Sami Ben Gharbia about New Media, Tunisia, and the Arab Spring

During the revolution we noticed that there were limitations on the Facebook platform. We know Facebook, we know the tools –-- it’s not about the tools, it’s about the context in which the tools are being used, it’s about the strategy, implementation and approach to the using the tools.

That consciousness of the tools is really important in understanding the impact that the Internet had on the Tunisian revolution --- Facebook is a closed platform --- it has been used hugely by the Tunisian activists that were on the ground, take pictures and videos and posting that on Facebook. That was great.

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The Latest from Iran (3 July): A Fight Amongst the Opposition

1955 GMT: Corruption Watch. And the battle within escalates....

As President Ahmadinejad alleges that the Revolutionary Guards have been avoiding customs duty as they bring commericial goods into Iran (see 1145 and 1505 GMT), Jahan News claims the Ahmadinejad camp is trying to buy four Russian helicopters for their 2012 Parliamentary election campaign.

Video of Ahmadinejad making his allegations of illegal imports by different Iranian groups:

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Iran Feature: As Strong as Our Signal --- Social Media and Activism (Mostatabi)

How can we, as an ever expanding internet network of activists, reach beyond the limitations of traditional activism, and the almost too limitless and too cluttered world of online activism, to find an effective way to take online action in a way that will affect real life change? How can we mitigate the tug of war for our attention, the broadcasts shoved into our faces, the murky, polluted stream of information, and realize that for all our good intentions, fascinating stories, and revs to action, we – our stories, our aspirations, our movements – remain only as strong as our signal?


The Real Net Effect: Egypt, Facebook, & Protest...In 2008 (Faris)

Certainly no one could have expected a 27-year-old human resources coordinator to catalyze an event that would grip the national consciousness for the better part of a week. It perhaps seemed even less likely that Facebook, a social networking scheme hatched by Harvard undergraduates just a few years ago and still associated largely with American college students, would be the chosen platform for this massive action. After all, Egyptian blogs can claim some significant victories vis-à-vis the state in the past few years, including exposing police torture and cases of sexual harassment, and a number of articles have been written about the growing power of bloggers. But when examined against developments in the scale-free Egyptian blogosphere and the innovations in network theory, the choice of Facebook makes much more sense.

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Iran Feature: A Blogging Competition (Within Limits)

Weblognews.irElizabeth Flock of The Washington Post follows up on a story first reported by Deutsche Welle, which is holding its own competition for Best Persian Blog.

Of course, we will be watching to see how EA fares in the Iranian contest:

Iran, a country that holds the “grim distinction” of having arrested and jailed the most bloggers, according to journalist watchdog group Reporters Without Borders, has organized a blogging competition.

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US Espionage: CIA-Run Facebook Dramatically Cuts Government Costs (The Onion/Iranian Media)

The Onion explores the success of the US Central Intelligence Agency with its programme "Facebook":

CIA's 'Facebook' Program Dramatically Cut Agency's Costs

Ahh, we have some sceptical readers who are pointing out that The Onion is a satirical non-CIA operation poking fun at "news".

Really? Let's consult our colleagues in Tehran: