The role of Twitter in the post-election unrests
In his 1984 book, George Orwell refers to government efforts to shrink the public opinion for political stability and to carry out its objectives. This opinion shrinking could be interpreted as limiting speech language and express different emotions. Mind Control as interpreted by the government, according to some experts, can be seen in social networking. In particular, Twitter could be an instance of Orwell’s theory on shrinking and summing up the feelings and opinions expressed by the governments. Twitter has been known as the second most popular social network in the world after Facebook.
United States of America uses from public diplomacy tools in its relationship with Iran. U.S experts on public diplomacy and strategic communications within government are exploiting the potential of new social media in order to penetrate into the hearts and opinions of outsiders especially in Iran.
Twitter is a form of social network service and online microblogging which allows its users to send and read text-based posts of up to 140 characters, known as “tweets”. Jack Dorsey invented Twitter in June 2006. It quickly gained popularity in the global, with more than 140 million active users since 2012 which tweet 340 million posts every day. Twitter has been described as “Internet short message”.
Summarizing the messages in 140 characters, using the good or bad words for describing the issues and dividing them into black or white could be defined in this way. The inclusion of feelings, interests and opinions in only 140 characters is one of these examples. According to media and social network’ experts, limiting the language really destroy it. The language has been invented in order to express the opinions openly and limiting it means limiting the human thinking.
Like Facebook and other social networks, Twitter at first was developed with the aim of sharing and social communication. But, an overview on its develop trend shows that its goals has been changed over time. The most important point is the large information bank of users which draw the attention of any security and intelligent service to monitor and collect information about users.
Twitter has had many applications since it launched. For example, it has been used in some countries to organize the political protests. That’s why they called these protests “twitter revolutions” such as Egypt revolution in 2011, protests following 2009-2010 election in Iran and the civil unrest in 2009 in Moldavia. After that, the wave of tweets and communication reached Libya and Bahrain.
The other point is the use of social networks as an effective tool in these countries which do not agree western countries’ policies. Social networks such as Facebook and twitter turned from communication network among friends to a place for organizing protests, publishing news (mostly untrue), and virtual protests. Now if these networks support civil movements against the will of western countries – like Palestine supporting campaigns, Wall Street movements, anti-war activists, prominent anti-west active pages, … - networks’ managers along with political experts will assess and study these pages and in case of public interest, they will closed or omitted.
Massive sending of short messages with certain political views, organizing domestic protests, creating chaos in the target countries, creating fake IDs to connect with people for certain goals and suggesting specific ideas to affect the public opinion are among the tools that have been used by the US government against Iran in 2009.
Recently turned out that the US government made a deal with “HB Gray Federal” software co. to design different softwares that enable them to create fake profiles in social networks. The main goal is to simulate the public opinion with propagandas. They have also used this method to find and identify oppositions. Then they can use these fake IDs to stain other campaigns. However, this is not the first time that CIA or other private intelligence agencies act behind the scene (http://articles.cnn.com/2011).
At the time of unrest after Iran’s presidential election, twitter was one of the main communicative tools between outside and domestic organizers and the protesters (http://news.xydo.com/twitter_facebook). In the meanwhile, twitter declared due to some constructions and technical changes, the website will be out of reach for 24 hours. US department of state issued an official letter addressing the website management asked them to postpone the constructions ant to continue its service. Twitter accepted the request to delay the construction and this is another example for the use of social networks in general diplomacy.