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Iran: More on "Two Twitterers" (and on the Idiocy of "The Times")

The Iran Crisis (Day 18): What To Watch For Today

The Latest from Iran Crisis (29 June): The Challenge Survives

Iran: A Tale of Two Twitterers

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URGENT UPDATE 29 June 1800 GMT: A good Iranian source claims that "persiankiwi" has not been arrested but does not have current access to Internet.

Unfortunately, there is little new of substance to report on one of the two Twitterers we profiled last week, "persiankiwi". He/she has now been silent for five days. In the vacuum, there are confusing claims and counter-claims ---  "persiankiwi" is in hiding, he/she has opened another account to evade Iranian state surveillance --- and attempts by malevolent Tweeters and possibly pro-Iran Government agents to exploit the situation.

Better news with "Change_For_Iran", who has reappeared after a three-day silence, although his/her activity may be limited by poor connections.

Meanwhile, amidst the generous support for these two and other Iranian correspondents, there is an asinine piece of "journalism" in The Times of London, "Tweeters Melt Away After 15 Minutes of Fame".

Judith Evans begins with a general trashing of those using Twitter in Iran:
One described a massacre no one else seemed to have witnessed then vanished. Another started posting obscene links in the place of information, giving rise to suspicions the account had been hacked; a third reappeared to say he had fled. The Iranian rebel tweeters have melted away.

It's one thing for Evans to make a sweeping condemnation when she clearly hasn't followed the information on Twitter (ironically, the best Tweeters have done a far better job than Times reporters in offering a window on Iranian events). It's another for her to claim, "In any case, either internet blocks or arrests have reduced the trickle of information to virtually nothing," when there is still more than enough getting out to keep a good news service (let's say, Enduring America) on top of the political story.

But this is where print-media stupidity gives way to nastiness in the face of bravery: "Names such as persiankiwi and Change_for_Iran, for a brief moment apparently the voices of democratic Iran, may prove untraceable now that they have had their 15 minutes of cyberspace fame."

I cannot and would not say whether Ms Evans is seeking her own 15 seconds of fame/infamy with this article. I will say that, it is to the credit of those she mentions that "15 minutes of cyberspace fame" was not the prime motive for "persiankiwi" (who may or may not be in an Iranian prison) and "Change_For_Iran" (who is recovering from a beating) to take their stands.

Reader Comments (10)

Do yoy have a link to the Times story so we can properly thrash Ms Evans for her cruel and unthinking remarks? How these liberals love dictators!

June 29, 2009 | Unregistered Commentervdavisson

vdavisson- I've updated the post (with Scott's permission) to contain a link to the article.

June 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterMike Dunn

I don't want to say that all the tweets by the two twiterers or others have been false and opposite to reality but one should consider that there is no way the validity of them could be approved. Harsh times people had in Tehran and some other cities but we should not let our feelings rule our reason. I condemn all the killings and the beatings but i believe that it was not all the truth about iran that was reflected in the news or in the cyberspace. In Iran a majority had voted for Ahmadinejad and from all of the pre-election polls done by different organizations with different interests his victory was expectable, so why nobody has given voice to those who have supported Ahmadinejad? They are mainly from the less previlidged part of the society and they are not familiar with using internet for raising their voice but this does not deprive them of the right of deciding for their country's future. So if we faily look at the events in iran and the news in foreign media from a different angle we see that if the minority in iran hasnot been given voicce to, it is majority of iranian people who have been silented by foreign media and even in times insulted to by calling the one to whom they voted the "dictator". we should respect what people of a country decide for themselves and we should keep our eyes and ears open to the whole truth of any event.

June 30, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterm. s.


You make a very important point. We have tried to use information from Twitter only when we are sure that is reliable or when we add the caution that it is not verified.

I also appreciate your point about the "selection" of news. Our problem is that it is almost impossible now to get any reliable information from outside Tehran, including from those who support the President. As for the election and protests, we are using news from Press TV and other Iranian state media, but this tends to be partial in its portrayal of events.

On your final sentence, "We should respect what people of a country decide for themselves and we should keep our eyes and ears open to the whole truth of any event": I could not agree more.


June 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterScott Lucas

I appreciate your response. I know you have tried to give true information and thank you for that; indeed that’s why I keep coming back to this website to get the information I can’t get anywhere else. I myself have tried my best to have as fairest look into these events as possible. I don’t live in Tehran but I study there. Before the election I made a journey from south to the north of Tehran and from the signs people had worn or had attached to their shops and working places I could tell the vote of the south was mainly for Ahmadinejad while the north was overwhelmingly for Mousavi. This however is not the point that only I had observed but the fact is that many inside and outside the country have forgotten even their own observations before the election. I wish I could send you the movies and pictures I had taken from masses of people celebrating his victory in my hometown and even in my parents’ and I will do it as soon as I can access my facebook page ( I know it may not be soon ). I think the media has done injustice to this section of Iranian society. I’m no supporter of either candidates but I believe the supporters of both need attention. I don’t consider neither press TV nor Iran’s state TV as fair. They are being unfair to both groups in different ways but I believe that you and other people in this website can give some voice to all Iranians, not just some of them.

June 30, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterm. s.


Any information on that "missing dimension" that you identify so well would be gratefully received. From my outside viewpoint, your comments on Tehran are important to remember, and I think we are suffering because of no knowledge of other areas.

What surprised me about the vote was not necessarily the gap between Ahmadinejad and Mousavi but that the votes for Karroubi and Rezaei were so low (only 1-2%).


June 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterScott Lucas

Dr Lucas,

This election was from the first place between Ahmadinejad and Mousavi and the other two candidates were in the shades. As for Karroubi, he had strong and influencing figures on his side but he personally appeared very weak in his live debates and speeches in the TV. He couldn’t answer some of the most fundamental questions directed to him by other candidates like why he had accepted some $300,000 from Shahram Jazayeri, a controversial figure charged with economic corruption who had bribed some high ranking officials, or why he had held secret prisons inside the Foundation of Martyrs and Veterans Affairs while he was the head of it. Dr Rezaei of course appeared very good in the debates and speeches but he had begun his campaign late. He had entered the previous election but had withdrawn from it and even this time he was not seemed stable and insistent on entering the race. This made people doubt his firmness and stability. However I believe that if Dr Rezaei enters the next presidential race he would attract much more attention and vote. As I believe that if Mousavi was not in the race, Karroubi as the only reformist was going to gain more votes, however not as much as Musavi did.
Besides, as there were concerns over a split in the votes of both the reformists and the fundamentalists, people were encouraged by the leaders of both groups to vote for the candidate whose victory was more expected that is for Mousavi and Ahmadinejad. I don’t know if I made my point clear or not!

June 30, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterm. s.


The points are very clear and very helpful! Thank you so much.


June 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterScott Lucas

Scott and M.S.,

My 2 cents on 3rd and 4th place...

I think it wasn't so much that Karroubi and Rezaei failed to adequately get their message across, rather that Ahmadinejad was just too skilled of a politician to be matched by the others. This is not to credit Ahmadinejad with any intellectual brilliance, just to say that he is a highly formidable political warrior, particularly in the televised debate which caused some stir in the foreign media.

American observers will recognize the parallel to Minnesota Republican Michelle Bachmann. While obviously ignorant and paranoid, Bachmann still brutally vivisected her opponent Tinklenberg in all of their debates. It was almost humiliating to watch.

June 30, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterUJ

Although I don't know anything about Michelle Bachmann and her debatin skills but i agree that Ahmadinejad didn't show good manners in the debates. he started his arguments with accusations and tried to keep the other side always in the defensive. The debates in general were a good starting point for the Iranian state TV. People of iran were literally shoked by the explicity of the arguments. Maybe if the debates were better managed -with a skilled moderator perhaps- the aftermath of election wouldn't be what it is now. Ahmadinejad was the first person who introduced kind of psychological warfare into the debates (i think it was the second of debates) and then other candidated felt free to talk of accusations without a well-grounded proof to them. the debates got really nasty in sometimes i'm afraid to say.

July 1, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterm. s.

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